Fires in Australia are increasingly under control as cooler temperatures and light winds stay consistent, according to fire fighting officials.
Teams near the town of Bodalla in New South Wales, the state most affected by weeks of bushfires, said Sunday that they were able to move from defense to offense, working to ensure a fire would not reach a major highway, the Associated Press reported.
The Gospers Mountain fire northwest of Sydney, which has been burning since October, is under control as of Sunday thanks to light rain, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Sunday.
As of Sunday evening, 111 fires were still burning across the state of New South Wales - 40 of them still uncontrolled, according to the NSW Rural Fire Service.
At 8:30pm there are 111 bush and grass fires burning across NSW, all at the Advice alert level, with 40 not yet contained. While it's been pleasing to hear of rain falling across parts of the state today, many of these fires will still take some time to fully contain. #NSWRFS pic.twitter.com/ZtF2IgDzkc— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) January 12, 2020
Since September, at least 27 people have died in Australia’s bushfires. More than 10 million hectares (24 million acres) of land — an area bigger than Portugal — have been scorched.
Climate change rallies have been held in Australia by thousands of protesters critical of the government’s handling of the bushfire crisis. A demonstration in Sydney Saturday has reportedly drew 30,000 people.
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison has come under scrutiny for his response to the wildfires — most recently for underplaying the role of climate change in the devastating wildfires.
The prime minister has previously defended his energy and climate policies as adequate and responsible, but on Sunday said his government was working to create a long-term program designed to reduce the risk of natural disasters "in response to the climate changing," the Associated Press reported.