Despite arrival of needed rain, fire threat to soar again in Australia
Firefighters in Australia are exhausted after a devastating weekend. Saturday is being called one of the worst days of wildfires in the country's history.
There is no end in sight to Australia's months'-long bushfire catastrophe despite the arrival of rain in recent days. Forecasters say the ingredients for dangerous bushfire development will remain in place.
New South Wales remains under a state of emergency as around 2,300 firefighters are attempting to contain 130 across the Australian state. Fires are also threatening parts of Victoria and the Australia Capital Territory.
At least 26 fatalities have been blamed on the fires burning across the country since October, according to The Associated Press. More than 2,000 buildings have been destroyed.
"The fires are still burning, and they'll be burning for months to come," said Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who pledged to increase the amount of funding needed to battle the extreme fires.
On Monday, the government pledged an additional AU$2 billion to the fire recovery fund that will help rebuild towns and infrastructure that have been destroyed, according to the AP.
There was some additional good news early this week as the combination of cooler air and the first widespread rainfall in weeks aided firefighting efforts in southeastern Australia.
Sydney residents were heard cheering a soaking rain that fell across the city on Monday as fire crews continued to try to gain control over blazes burning west of the city.
The rainfall has been beneficial for firefighting efforts but not heavy enough to extinguish the massive blazes that are ongoing across the region.
Even in areas that were not being directly affected by ongoing fires, smoke and haze from the blazes were causing problems.
Bushfire smoke shrouds the skyline of Australia's largest city Sydney, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. Australia braced for one of the worst days in its wildfire crisis, with strong winds and high temperatures forecast to bring flames to more populated areas, including the suburbs of Sydney. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide have all endured spells of dangerous smoke and haze since the fires began.
As the poor air quality continued, Canberra reported higher levels of pollution in the air on Monday than Beijing, China, and New Delhi, India.
The Australian flag flies above Parliament House as smoke shrouds the Australian capital of Canberra, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. Australia deployed military ships and aircraft to help communities ravaged by apocalyptic wildfires that destroyed homes and sent thousands of residents and holidaymakers fleeing to the shoreline. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
The smoke was so thick in Melbourne that visibility was less than 0.40 of a kilometer (0.25 of a mile) for several hours.
The smoke also continued to hinder rescue efforts in the community of Mallacoota where 340 people were still awaiting evacuation on Tuesday more than a week after the coastal town was cut off by raging fires.
The fires have been burning so long that smoke has traversed the Pacific Ocean with winds blowing the smoke as far away as South America.
Another change in the weather may improve air quality but raise the risk for new wildfires later this week.
Firefighters will be at risk for dangerous conditions as winds will increase and shift direction suddenly into early Saturday.
Along with the increase in winds, temperatures will soar well above normal across Victoria and much of New South Wales.
Cooler air will sweep across southeastern Australia from Saturday into Sunday before heat returns again next week.Report a Typo