Australian Bushfires Merge Into 1.5 Million-Acre Blaze

James Marshall
January 12, 2020

Australia urged almost a quarter of a million people to evacuate their homes on Friday and prepared military backup as authorities said the next few hours could be "very, very challenging" even as rain poured down in some parts.

Defence personnel stood ready to move to bushfire grounds if conditions became extreme, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters, as soaring temperatures and erratic winds create unsafe conditions.

"The next few hours are going to be very, very challenging".

While the winds are expected to move through by Saturday morning, Andrews urged residents to stay on high alert and leave the community "if you are told to".

New South Wales (NSW) Rural Fire Service spokesman Anthony Clark said: "It provides a challenge for firefighters as, when they merge, it increases the size and opens up more uncontained perimeter".

The tragedy brings the death toll to at least 27 people in a crisis that has destroyed more than 2,000 homes and scorched an area larger than the USA state of in since September.

A large air tanker drops fire retardant near a property in Penrose on Friday.

MR SHANE FITZSIMMONS, commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, on how weather conditions are easing. "In the event that they are needed in the wake of what we hope we will not see today, but we must prepare for today". "We're taking the opportunity while we can".

It would appear that we have got at least a week.

A pair of massive bushfires in southeastern Australia has merged into a "mega-fire" engulfing some 2,300 square miles - a single blaze more than three times as large as any known fire in California.

Ecologists at the University of Sydney have estimated one billion animals have been killed or injured in the bushfires, potentially destroying ecosystems.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been widely criticized for his handling of the crisis.

This is the first time that firefighters from the US have accepted missions in Australia since 2010, according to CNN About 100 firefighters from the USA and Canada have arrived to help.

People across Australia are calling on the government to implement stronger climate measures.

But in the interview, the PM defended his government's approach, which he said took into account the effect of climate change on the bushfires.

Protesters in both cities chanted "ScoMo has got to go" while Sydney protesters also yelled "the liar from the shire our country is on fire".

Koala stands in the field with bushfire burning in the background, in Kangaroo Island, southwest of Adelaide, Australia, January 9, 2010.

"We don't want job-destroying, economy-destroying, economy-wrecking targets and goals, which won't change the fact that there have been bushfires or anything like that in Australia", he said.

The Melbourne protest was criticised by Premier Daniel Andrews who warned the protesters could jeopardise their standing by staging a protest that diverts police resources away from bushfires.

And they have also prompted misleading online claims about the extent of the blazes and a concerted campaign to blame the crisis on arson, rather than climate change, drought or record high temperatures.

"Whenever there are catastrophic wildfires other countries are willing to help", she said.

Australia fires MAP: Is Perth affected by the fires?

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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