By Simon Shreepaili
Canterbury Girls High School, Year 8
22 January 2020
Australia has experienced extreme bushfires killing millions of animals and damaging hundreds of properties across Australia. These fires burnt nearly 13 million acres; they still burn in many places. The fires have also affected lives of many people, including 25 deaths and many injuries. According to media reports, approximately 480 million animals were killed by the inferno including, sadly, 8000 koalas.
Apart from destroying properties and killing animals, these devastating bushfires destroy one more thing – that’s our environment. The recent fires have adversely affected the air quality since a huge amount of smoke has spread throughout Australia and may be beyond.
Australian bushfires have also impacted temperature; temperature has risen and country has become dryer. People have had to put up with smokey dry air conditions. Many have expressed their anxiety and concerns through social media. State and federal governments, considering worst bushfire conditions, imposed state of emergency and at the same time issued flurry of notices advising people on how to stay safe amid bushfires around 200 places of Australia.
How the bushfires started
The first fire started around mid-November in the snowy valleys which is few kilometres north of the Victorian border. It is believed that fires happening now was ignited deliberately. By the end of the month, there were spot fires north of Batemans Bay and the fires burnt through more than 300,000 hectares. Police have charged at least 24 people for intentionally starting fires.
Most bushfires start by some sort of ignition of built-up dry leaves and plants. They can also be started by cigarette butts, active campfires, overhead power lines and many more man-made reasons. The fire was spreading fast because of gum leaves that contain very flammable oils that make the fire spread fast.
Bushfire impacted rainfall
Since the bushfires started, there has not been enough rainfall in Australia. Regional Australia has faced water scarcity, the land is dry, and the government has imposed water restriction. Though it is hard to confirm that bushfire is the only reason for dwindling rainfall in Australia, it certainly is one of the reasons contributing to the drought. Heavy rainfall was expected to control bushfires.
However, fortunately, we have had some rain since last week. In some parts, we have had hail and floods even.
NSW: There has been heavy rainfall in Sydney, in Lismore, Wollongong and Coffs Harbour. Dubbo has experienced more than 15mm of rain. Sydney has had up to 6mm of water but if we compare that 6mm of rainwater to the average amount of rainfall (which is 102 mm) is very little.
South Australia: South Australia has not experienced much rain which makes it prone to fires. Many suburbs in SA have a temperature that is escalating rapidly. Because of the high temperature, there is a very low chance of rainfall for the central parts of the state while Adelaide is ‘cooling down’.
Western Australia: Western Australia has a different case, instead of dry and smokey conditions, Western Australia is facing wet and flooding. It is because there is a cyclone headed towards WA. It is estimated that WA is going to experience more 500mm of rainwater. There have been many thunderstorm warnings which include heavy wind, heavy rain and large hailstorm.
Northern Territory: Northern Territory is now in its monsoon seasons and it is already beginning with lots of floods. There is going to be a lots of thunderstorms and stormy conditions.
Tasmania: Some parts of Tasmania have forecast to experience some showers within the week. Tasmania has not experienced very intense heat as Hobart reached the maximum temperature of 29C. It is likely that the temperature will decrease.
ACT: In Canberra, there is a very high risk of the bushfires, but Canberra is cooling down. There was a drought period in the ACT so the bushfires were able to spread fast.
Queensland: Southeast of Queensland is expected to hit the 40C line. There is extreme fire risks and several bushfires are continuing in Queensland.
Bushfire Prevention Strategy
We can prevent the bushfires by backburning, being careful about cigarettes because they can easily ignite dry leaves, clearing the area if there are leaves around and always have an emergency plan ready. Backburning is when grass, leaves, twigs are burnt using a controlled fire so that we can prevent huge fires in the bushfire months. If a bushfire is near your home, then make sure to prepare emergency buckets of water and remove any items that are lying around outside which could ignite fast. If you spot at spot fires, then ignite it or call emergency services.
Australian bushfires have been a devastating catastrophe critically damaging local flora and fauna, properties and millions of acres of lands. Bushfires are still ongoing and there are no signs of them being under complete control. It has not only devastated the land and properties but also impacted air quality and temperature.
These devastating bushfires can be prevented, to some extent at least, by timely backburning, clearing the potential bushfire zones, creating a fire restriction zone and preparing a strong fire emergency response plan.
Disclaimer: The writer, a school student from Sydney, is solely responsible for all aspects of this article including facts and figures. “Platform” is an open space where readers are invited to express their views, opinions, anecdotes, experiences on any matter under the sun.