Torrential rain across Australia’s east could stifle all remaining bushfires in the nation’s most populated state by the end of the week, authorities stated on Tuesday, raising hopes a deadly nationwide crisis is almost over.
Australia has been battling hundreds of fires since September in an unusually extended summer wildfire season that was kindled by three years of drought, which experts have associated with climate change.
Storms and heavy rains have, in recent days, swept throughout New South Wales (NSW) state, which bore the brunt of a crisis that overwhelmed several states and territories at its top.
The downpour has already drenched two of the biggest and longest-running fires, and NSW delegates are hoping that more rain forecast for this week will stifle the remaining 24 fires, four of which are burning uncontrolled.
Today’s scenario is a far cry from the height of the disaster in early January when NSW firefighters had been battling virtually 150 fires that began a firefront about 6,000 kilometers long.
Blazes throughout the nation have destroyed nearly 12 million hectares (29.7 million acres) of tinder-dry bushland, killing 33 individuals and an estimated 1 billion native animals, since September.
The fires destroyed thousands of houses and prompted mass evacuations of locals as well as tourists under apocalyptic-like red skies throughout Australia’s peak summer vacation period.
Hawkesbury City Mayor Barry Calvert stated the drenching of the massive Gospers Mountain fire this week was a huge help.
The welcome rainfall has come as something of an early shock. The Bureau of Meteorology in January stated rains adequate to eliminate the fires were unlikely until at least March.