This week I experienced being in a zone with a high risk of bushfires. Back home, there are not many forests or regions near me that experience these. Prior to coming to Australia, I was unaware of how high risk they are.
The first time I had heard about bushfires here was in my Sydney environment class. The professor had mentioned that Aboriginal peoples would burn bush and things would grow back healthier, so environmentalists followed in their footsteps and every year right before and the beginning of summer, they would purposely burn bush. This is supposed to prevent future out of control bushfires, as well as helps trees and plants rebuild on burnt land.
However, there has been a super dry heat, about 90 degrees, and wind lately in Australia, which is perfect weather for bushfires to get out of control. About 200 different bushfires popped up in different national parks and mountainous areas causing the country to be on alert for potential spreading. Initially, they had them confined and under control, however, over the past week more have popped up closer to the city and have gotten out of control.
There are about 50 fires in the New South Wales area, which is the region I am in. The closest bushfire is only 8 minutes away from me and is continuing to spread. Some days they say to stay inside because of the extreme heat and the danger of the spreading fires. All the areas and a lot of roads are closed down within certain parameters of these fires. I had gone into the city the other day and the sky was pure orange around about 6pm. Later that night, it was a full moon and you could see the smoke covering and flowing in front of its illuminate shape.
Many have had to evacuate as these fires have spread and destroyed about 2,000 homes and about 5 people have died. Thankfully, I have not had to evacuate yet, but there are many procedures in place. Since these fires have started, I have realized how important it is to constantly watch the news and be aware of what is happening in this region because at any moment I could need to evacuate.
These are the worst bushfires they have had in over 6 years. Blankets of smokes continue to fill the city and people continue to evacuate. It is crucial people read the news websites and check what shelter or safety measures are in place if one’s area becomes critical.
Drexel International Health, Safety and Security has been monitoring the bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland and provides guidance to Drexel students on actions to take, including as Carina has suggested, close monitoring of the news and understanding the local procedures put in place by our partner universities.