World

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Raging Australian bushfires have burned an area the size of New Hampshire and Vermont combined

According to the New South Wales (NSW) Rural Fire Service, 136 bushfires are scorching the country of Australia as of Monday morning, including 69 that are not contained. Australian air quality in areas near these harsh fires have measured almost 11 times the “hazardous” level as of December, and around 14.7 million acres have burned across the six Australian states since fire season began in September 2019 – an area the size of New Hampshire and Vermont combined. Officials say 24 people have died due to these raging bushfires, including 18 from NSW which has been hit hardest by the fires, and 3 from both Victoria and South Australia. Australian wildlife has also taken a tremendous hit from these wrathful blazes. According to professor Chris Dickman from the University of Sydney, an estimated 480 million animals are estimated to have died in NSW alone due to these fires. Furthermore, according to Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley, a third of all Koalas in NSW have been killed due to these fires. ~

According to Space.com, a lengthy and intensifying drought, along with record-breaking temperatures, fueled an “early kickoff to fire season” in September 2019 and has continued into early 2020. Catastrophic fire danger was declared in the Greater Sydney region on November 12, 2019 for the first time since this level was introduced in 2009, and a “total fire ban” was put in place for seven Australian regions. Although rain has temporarily eased the spread of these fires in NSW, the blazes are expected to continue spreading again later this week due to rising temperatures. ~

The Australian government reportedly pledged Monday to pay “whatever it takes” to help both citizens and wildlife recover from the catastrophic bushfires. According to the Associated Press, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison committed $1.39 billion in aid dedicated to assisting communities affected by the fires, with around $347 million projected to be allocated in 2020. Around 3,000 army reserve forces and 2,700 firefighters have also been called to fight the flames, according to the Australia Defense Force Sunday. ~

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