New years eve 2019. The thin green ribbon of forests, grasslands and bush that skirt the edge of Australia and have been desiccated by drought over the last few years are now burning.
Communities have been devastated with an as yet unassessed number of homes/businesses destroyed and a grimly growing death toll. Large numbers of wildlife and livestock have been decimated. It is a National emergency.
So far (for it is far from over) 5 million hectares have been burnt nationwide in this bushfire season.
To put that into perspective for overseas readers, here is a map of the current bushfires if it were overlayed across Europe.
Tonight the mostly volunteer Rural Fire Service and its support networks will be working their exhausted butts off to continue to protect life and property, families will grieve personal loss and thousands of individuals trapped in now cut-off coastal communities, many forced to flee their homes, will endure a long dark night of the soul.
In just one example: within the small coastal town of Bermagui it is estimated 5,000 people are being sheltered at the local Surf Life Saving Club. Approximately 1,500 of these people are locals.
Meanwhile, in a somewhat bizarre & ironic twist, (and despite the protests of thousands) Sydney will welcome the new year in with one of the largest pyrotechnic displays to be seen in the world.
As the clock counts down to midnight and the skies are about to errupt into a thousand human crafted fires….at the traditional welcoming cry of “Happy New Year!” that signals the fireworks….there will no doubt be an uneasy dry moment of hesitation for many. For the reality is…it is a far from a happy start to 2020.
Perhaps the following Twitter video best captures the situation for those directly impacted by the fires (strong language warning):