Land Down Under in Flames:

Drought, heatwave produce deadly conditions

Beatriz Ramirez, Reporter

From Jan. 1 to Nov. 22, 2019, there were 46,706 wildfires around the world, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. About 4.6 million acres were burned in the 2019 period. One of the bigger wildfires that occurred in 2019 was in late August, when the Amazon Rainforest burned for approximately one month. But one of the worst wildfires seen in decades is happening in Australia. The fires began in late July and since then have gotten larger as the days go on.


So far, there have been fires in every Australian state, but one of the states that has been affected by these fires the most is New South Wales. The fires have burned through national parks such as Blue Mountains, and they’ve been affecting some of Australia’s largest cities. For example, in both Melbourne and Sydney, fires have damaged homes and thick plumes of smoke blanket these locations. The air quality in Sydney was so awful that it measured 11 times the hazardous levels. 


The size of these fires can vary from small blazes to hundreds of acres being destroyed. Some of these fires that start are put out in a matter of days, while others still haven’t been put out. New South Wales alone has experienced over 100 fires, which are still burning and caused damage to more than 3,000 homes. 


Each year, there is a “fire season” in Australia due to the hot and dry weather in the summer, which makes it easy for blazes to start and spread. Natural causes are also responsible for these fires, for example, lightning. Lastly, humans can also be to blame. In New South Wales, the police have charged over 24 people for starting bush fires. 


The reason that these fires are so bad is because Australia is experiencing one of its worst droughts in years. The heatwave in December broke the record for highest nationwide average temperature, some locations reaching over 113 degrees fahrenheit. The wind has also caused the fires to spread even more rapidly.


There have been entire towns that were swamped in flames causing residents to lose their homes. More than 17.9 million acres have been burned across Australia’s six states and approximately 28 people throughout Australia have lost their lives due to these deadly fires.