A bushfire season began to take hold in late August 2019 throughout Australia. The Australian east coast experienced a number of major bushfires across multiple states. The hardest hit areas included Central Queensland, South Eastern Queensland, and various regions of New South Wales: the North Coast, Mid North Coast, Cessnock, the Hunter Region, the Hawkesbury north west of Sydney, the Wollondilly south west of Sydney, the Blue Mountains west of Sydney and the South Coast. On 20 December, serious fires took hold in South Australia, especially in the Cudlee Creek area of the Adelaide hills. By 21 December 2019, the fires had burnt over 3,000,000 hectares, destroyed over 700 houses and killed at least 9 people with at least one unaccounted for.
THIS MAN SWEARS EVERY SECOND WORD. BE WARNED!
When I realised they're in a fucking boat on the water… Farrrk! That's probably the only time you'd ever get me in a boat – to escape a raging fucking bushfire from hell. #Mallacoota #AustralianFires #ClimateChangeIsReal https://t.co/uuXejj9fbp— Marin Rymer (@MarinRymer) December 31, 2019
Dozens of fires continue to burn in the states of Queensland and New South Wales, where more than 50 people have been charged with arson since August. Another 150 suspects are being interviewed by investigators.
More than 2 million hectares of land, including vast areas of forest, have been scorched in eastern Australia’s bushfire crisis. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed, and six people have died.
The Australian Institute of Criminology has estimated that around half of the nation’s bushfires are either arson or suspected arson.
Most offenders are male. Many are children. Some have been the victims of sexual or physical abuse, while much work has been done to explore the motivations of adult firebugs.
Even a volunteer firefighter in Australia has been accused of arson.
The massive bushfires raging in Australia’s New South Wales area may have killed up to 30 percent of the region’s koalas, according to government officials, and in many areas animals are seeking the help of humans.
DRINK UP: A cyclist in Australia let an extremely thirsty koala climb up on her bicycle and drink from her water bottle, as a heatwave gripped parts of the country. https://t.co/KUAvQ8nLnG pic.twitter.com/giShLushYj— ABC News (@ABC) December 30, 2019
Emu Farm in NSW was about to shut off its troughs due to drought until video revealed this … pic.twitter.com/LWYDWoaQkv— 🇦🇺🇬🇧🇮🇪 ✝️ @EmmaDownUnder ✡️ 🇭🇺🇵🇱🇦🇺 (@emm_downunder) December 30, 2019
Self-reliant man builds kiln, shelters from flames
Steve Harrison, a 67-year-old potter, hid in a makeshift kiln to insulate him from the flames as his property was destroyed. He told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that he had stayed behind to defend his home in Balmoral, a community south-west of Sydney that has been devastated by the blazes.
“I ran to my ute (pickup truck) but my garden was already on fire, the driveway was on fire, the road was on fire so I couldn’t evacuate,” Harrison said. “The day before I had actually built myself a small kiln down the back — a coffin-sized kiln — just big enough for me to crawl inside.”
Harrison hid in the kiln for half an hour as the “firestorm” raged.
“It was huge, just glowing orange-red everywhere. Just scary. I was terrified,” he recalled. “I could have (died) if I hadn’t thought about plan B. In that little kiln enclosure I made, I had a fire extinguisher, a bucket of water, a drinking water bottle and a fire blanket.”