Last December, Eastern Australia had a big bushfire, which caused a lot of damages in Australia
/Photo courtesy of Nick Moir of The Sydney Morning Herald
A bushfire is a fire that consumes grass, bushes or woodland and can threaten life, property and the environment. Several triggers, such as lighting strikes that activate flame, human accidental ignitions, throwing a cigarette out of car window and defective electrical wires can originate bushfire. The bushfire has various consequences on mankind, climate, and wildlife and so on.
Eastern Australia is one of the most fire-prone regions in the world that has been effected extensively by the bushfires over the centuries. The reason for this is that the Australian climate is generally hot and dry, which is prone to drought. Many areas of Australia are vulnerable to wildfire at any time of the year, with widely different fire seasons represented in various geographical locations of the continent. The southern part is vulnerable to bushfire in summer and autumn, while the northern part mostly faces its fire in winter and spring. According to a report of Australian Government, “Grassland fires frequently occur after good periods of rainfall, which result in abundant growth that dries out in hot weather. Bushfires tend to occur when light and heavy fuel loads in eucalypt forests which are dried out, usually following periods of low rainfall.”
Historically, since various bushfire took places in Australia over the years, early European explorers of the Australian coastline noted extensive bushfire smoke. Abel Janszoon Tasman’s expedition saw smoke drifting over the coast of Tasmania in 1642 and noted blackened trunks and baked earth in the forests. While charting the east coast in 1770, Captain Cook’s crew saw autumn fires in the bush burning on most days of the voyage. According to a survey of Australian Geographic, bushfires have killed approximately 800 people, billions of animals and burned millions acres of lands since 1851.
The Black Thursday bushfires, which started on February 6th, 1851, were a devastating series of fires that swept the state of Victoria. Based Picturesque Atlas of Australasia in 1886, the temperature became torrid, and in the morning of February 6th, the air which blew down from the north resembled the breath of a furnace. A fierce wind arose, gathering strength and velocity every hour until about noon. It blew with the violence of a tornado. By some inexplicable means, it wrapped the whole country in a sheet of fierce, awful, and irresistible flame. The root cause of the black Thursday 1851 bushfire was an intense drought that occurred throughout 1850 when the continent suffered from extreme heat. The recorded temperature reached to 47 ºC. The survivors of this bushfire claimed that the air was full of smoke and heat that their lungs seemed to collapse. In that record, 5,000,000 hectors of land were destroyed and approximately 1 million of sheep and thousands of cattle died.
Seven fires that were the most destructive in history of Australia
Afterward, various bushfires happened in the continent. However, some of them have been more widespread and deadly. To specify seven of the wildfires have been considered the most destructive in the history of Australia. By way of example, the whole country considered the 1974 to 1975 bushfires the worst one in the history. Almost 15 percent of the Australia’s areas were burnt, which is roughly the size of Spain and France. The 1969 to 1970 bushfire happened in the northern part of the continent and it was the second worst one where roughly 45,000,000 hactares area was decimated. According to a report, 23 people died, including 17 motorists at Lara, trapped on the highway between Geelong and Melbourne. The fires also destroyed 230 houses, 21 buildings, and more than 12,000 stocks.
Furthermore, in the late 2002 and early 2003, 29 percent of the northern region was burnt, which was almost 38,000,000 hectares. The fires are thought to have been ignited by lightning strikes in combination of drought. The February 6th, 1851, was considered the earlier large scale and fourth extensive bushfire in the history of Australia. In addition, the Black Saturday 2009 bushfire has been claimed as the highest human fatalities in the Australia bushfire history and 173 people lost their lives. Besides, 414 people were injured and an estimated one million of animals were destroyed.
The fires followed a particular severe heatwave and the cities like Melbourne temperature raised up to 40 ºC. The sixth extensive bushfire is famous as “Ash Wednesday,” happened in South Australia and Victoria in 1983. As reported by ABC News, residents recall the day was part of a heatwave during a 10-month drought, with very low humidity, temperatures as high as 43 ºC and winds reaching more than 100 kilometers per hour. Ash Wednesday took away the lives of 75 people, and the highest 2,000 of homes were destroyed with around 400,000 hactares of land. The seventh extensive bushfire happened in 1967 in Tasmania region which is famous as Black Tuesday. In conformity with a news agency, 110 separate fires broke-out and spread by wind speeds reaching 110 kilometre per hour in some places. The fires followed a dry season that was the worst seen for the region since 1885. As a result of Black Tuesday 64 were died, 900 people were injured, and 7000 people became homeless since 1293 homes were destroyed. Almost 264,270 hectares of land were burnt by fire.
Australian firefighters went into action to extinguish a bushfire
/Photo courtesy of Nick Moir of The Sydney Morning Herald
Australia is still suffering from the fires even recently
Last year, a new series of fire started from June with serious uncontrolled devastating fires. An estimated 18,000,000 hectares of land was effected, which is the highest effected area than Black Friday accident. Almost 2,779 homes are destroyed, over 30 people and one billion animals are killed. From September, 2019, fires heavily impacted various regions of the state of New South Wales such as North Coast, Sydney, Victoria, Queensland and so on. In the eastern and north-eastern Victoria, large areas of forests became out of control for four weeks before the fires emerged from the forest in late December. This recent bushfire has been attracted a lot of debates regarding the underlying cause of the intensity and scale of the fires due to the critical issues of bushfire to various factors. The Australian bushfires have affected environment, wildlife, human lives and so on. To sum up these, the wildfire influenced environment such as climate changes, carbon emissions and seasonality. Based on a report, “the climate has warmed by more than one degree Celsius over the past century, and eight out of ten Australia’s warmest years have been recorded since 2005.” Regarding carbon emissions, David Bowman Professor at university of Tasmania warns that much damage has been done to the point where Australian forests may take more than 100 years to reabsorb the carbon that has been released so far in the recent fire season.
In addition, billions of animal has been died in various bushfires over the years. For instance, in recent wildfire, 800 million animals were killed only in New South Wales and more than one billion nationwide. Moreover, hundreds of people lost their lives in various wildfire accidents, and effected various aspects related to human lives such as health, properties, livestock, home, access to electricity and telecommunications, drinking water and so on. Bushfires generate particulate-matter that are small and it does harm in human lung tissues and even affect unborn babies. As stated by an associate professor of public health at the University of Tasmania’s Menzies Institute for Medical Research, unborn babies exposed to the Hazelwood smoke were more likely to experience coughs or colds two to four years after the fires. To avoid these consequences, the Australian government in collaboration with the world community should take such type of actions to prevent bushfire for the better future of Australia and its surroundings.
Izaz Raouf firstname.lastname@example.org
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