Accessibility links

Breaking News

Heavy Rain Brings Australia’s Bushfire Crisis Closer to an End


Pedestrians brave strong wind and rain in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, Feb. 9, 2020.

Authorities in Australia say heavy rain could extinguish all of the fires in New South Wales state by the end of the week. Parts of eastern Australia have seen their heaviest downpours in more than 30 years.

Australia is a land of extremes.

Some towns have gone from drought to flood in a day as heavy rain has fallen in New South Wales, and parts of Queensland.

FILE - This image from a video, shows flooded fields on Gold Coast, Australia, Jan. 18, 2020.
FILE - This image from a video, shows flooded fields on Gold Coast, Australia, Jan. 18, 2020.

Some drought-hit farmers have had their best rainfall in a decade, while emergency authorities warned of "life-threatening" flash flooding.

Since Friday, Australia’s biggest city, Sydney, has been drenched by almost 400mm of rain. That amount usually falls over four months. More downpours are predicted later this week.

The deluge is helping a marathon firefighting effort.

A huge bushfire south of Sydney that burned for more than 70 days and destroyed 300 homes has finally been put out. Also extinguished is the so-called Gospers Mountain "mega-blaze" north-west of Sydney.

FILE - Trees are engulfed in flames as a bushfire spreads in Adaminaby, New South Wales, Australia, Jan. 9, 2020, in this still image from a video obtained from Ingleside Rural Fire Service.
FILE - Trees are engulfed in flames as a bushfire spreads in Adaminaby, New South Wales, Australia, Jan. 9, 2020, in this still image from a video obtained from Ingleside Rural Fire Service.

On Tuesday, 26 bush and grass fires were still burning across the state of New South Wales with 4 not yet contained. Some of these blazes have been burning for weeks and even months.

David Elliott, the New South Wales emergency services minister, says the heavy rain has caused chaos in some areas, but could put out all of the state’s bushfires within days.

"We expect that a number of local government areas will be given natural disaster declarations, which will allow for extra funding, extra support and, of course, make the appropriate response from our emergency services," he said. "The silver lining, of course, is the fact that we now look like we might see the end of this six month firefighting campaign.”

In Western Australia, the clean-up continues after a tropical cyclone crossed the state’s northwestern coastline at the weekend bringing destructive winds and torrential rainfall.

The Australian bushfire crisis began in September. At least 33 people have been killed and thousands of homes destroyed. More than 11 million hectares of land — an area the size of England — has been left scorched.

Recommended

XS
SM
MD
LG