As the Australian brush fires continue to burn, many experts are predicting that the flames will continue to rage for another several months, at least. Half a billion animals have likely already died, and at least 25 people are dead as the out-of-control wildfires rip through the region. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged another $2 billion to the relief effort.
Australia’s Prime Minister Addresses Flames
“The fires are still burning. And they’ll be burning for months to come,” Prime Minister Morrison told the public in a statement. “And so that’s why I outlined today that this is an initial investment of $2 billion. If more is needed and the cost is higher, then more will be provided.”
Morrison’s words underscored the dramatic, devastating nature of the wildfires. Numerous small towns across the region have been cut off from the rest of the country by the flames and have needed airlifted supplies of food and water. The Australian Defense Force on Monday airlifted supplies to the city of Genoa, which hadn’t seen any resupply since the flames first cut them off from the country.
The flames may be causing irreversible damage to the region’s biodiversity, as well. For instance, on Kangaroo Island, home to some of the world’s rarest plants and animals, over one-third of the island has burned. Experts fear this could mean the extinction of several species native to the island.
Many Fires Aren’t Contained
In New South Wales, 135 conflagrations continue to burn. Among them, 70 haven’t been contained. The situation continues to endanger lives as firefighting forces struggle to keep the blazes from human settlements and try to avoid as many wildlife deaths as possible. Victoria also has 27 fires still blazing as emergency relief attempts to counter them.
Several towns have been all but destroyed by fires. One such town is Corryong, where flames have reduced most buildings to cinders. “The hardest part is not knowing where to go now. We can’t go home,” resident Tahnia Whitsed told a local news station.
Meanwhile, the smoke from the fires is causing problems all its own. For instance, in the Australian capital of Canberra, the air quality was ranked as the worst in the world on Monday due to the smoke.