Australia wildfires: How to help victims and firefighters

Tuesday, 07 Jan, 2020

Australian officials are using a respite today from fierce wildfires to race to reopen blocked roads and evacuate people who have been trapped for days.

A second day of light drizzle and mild winds brought some welcome relief from the heatwave-fueled bush fires that tore through two states over the weekend.

But on Sunday night officials warned temperatures would rise by Thursday.

"No one can be complacent".

"We should just be honest about the fact that we're going to see more and more fires, more and more damage as each fire season comes. this is the new normal", Andrews told reporters.

Some government departments were shut in Canberra as the city's air quality was once-again ranked the world's poorest, according to independent online air-quality index monitor Air Visual.

Insurers have received 5850 bushfire-related claims in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland since the Insurance Council declared a bushfire catastrophe on 8 November.

"This fire and the haze and the fear and the quite extreme conditions would have had a profound impact on the mental health and wellbeing of people in communities", Mr Morrison told reporters on the weekend. Here, a photographer reacts to seeing the burnt-out remains of a relative's home in Quaama, New South Wales.

Penrith, on the outskirts of Sydney, reached a record 48.9 degrees Celsius on Saturday, symbolic of the unsafe weather conditions that have fanned ferocious flames and sparked new blazes farther south.

Many properties were destroyed, and one man passed away attempting to save a friend's residence in the severe conditions - among the worst in Australia's months-long bushfire crisis.

A person stands in protective gear as nearby bushfires turn the sky red in Mallacoota, Victoria.

Thousands of people have heeded the advice of authorities and evacuated a 217-mile stretch of coastline as well as risky inland areas over the past few days to escape the intensifying infernos. The Gospers Mountain fire originated in the Wollemi National Park, and came close to merging with other major fires in the area. More than 12million acres have now been destroyed.

Russell Crowe, New Zealand born but a long-term Australian resident, could not attend as he was home helping take precautions against the fires.

In addition, as of Monday, two people have been missing from fire-scorched regions in the state of New South Wales (NSW), where a number of communities were badly affected over the weekend.

A photo taken on Friday of the bushfires still burning around Sydney has been shared online by the International Space Station. Earlier, the fire had killed two people, burnt about a third of the Island and is believed to have killed approximately half of the Island's Koala population. So far, the blazes have scorched an area twice the size of the USA state of Maryland.

Asked whether government relief funding and lost revenue due to the fires could jeopardize the government's promise to return the budget to surplus this fiscal year, Morrison said the surplus wasn't a focus compared to dealing with the human cost of the crisis.

He has faced widespread criticism for taking a family vacation in Hawaii at the start of the wildfire crisis, as well as for his sometimes distracted approach as the disaster has escalated and his slowness in deploying resources.