Like many Australians, I have family and friends who have been directly affected by the #bushfirecrisis in New South Wales.
My brother Mark is a NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteer firefighter in the lower Blue Mountains, where he lives with his wife and 3 school aged children. The last time I spoke to him was on Christmas Eve, his wife and children were packing up to leave, but Mark had to stay behind to fight the bush fires. The day before, my youngest son Cameron, had to evacuate from his home in Blackheath in the upper Blue Mountains. He stayed with my eldest son in Western Sydney before returning home five days later. Here in Campbelltown, 57 kilometres South West of the Sydney CBD, a thick brown haze hung heavy in the air above the Sydney basin. We were lucky though, nobody got hurt and no-one lost their home…this time.
While my family were lucky this time, others were not so fortunate. At last count, the death toll stood at 23, 2500 buildings (including 1,400 homes) have burned to the ground, and more than 5 million hectares burned. At this stage, it’s anybody’s guess how many of our native animals have died – the fear is that some species will driven to extinction before this #bushfirecrisis is over.
And it’s not over yet. It’s not unusual for Australia to experience high temperatures well into autumn (March – May). God help us, we need drought-breaking rain.