Thousands are left homeless after months of brushfires have wreaked havoc across Australia. Record high temperatures and severe drought are keeping these fires burning as well as hampering the fire suppression methods.
Thick plumes of smoke can be seen from space and have made it tough for firefighters in the air. The town of Canberra – the Capital city of Australia – had the worst air quality in the world on Monday (1/6). The smoke has even created a haze in New Zealand which is more than a thousand miles away.
There are a number of reasons why these fires are spreading rapidly and one reason is the eucalyptus plant. It burns quickly and spread the fire rapidly. Millions of animals have perished from either the fires or from their food and shelter being destroyed. Local economies have been impacted due to evacuating tourists.
The area that is estimated to have burned already would cover about 50% of North Dakota. Australian officials have described this as the most intense wildfire in the country’s history with approximately 20 million acres burned.
The flames inside these fires are at times over 70 meters high or 229 feet. To put that into perspective, the Capitol Building is just under 242 feet.
The speed the fires can travel at is staggering. The typical speed of a forest fire is 6.7 miles per hour… for a grass fire, it’s 14 mph. The average healthy human can run about 6.12 mph. This is why evacuation and wind direction are key to saving lives.
If you would like to help in the relief effort, here is a list of reputable charities you can donate to https://www.kxnet.com/weather/weather-whys/how-to-help-victims-of-the-australian-wildfires/