Hell on Earth

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Matthew Abbott

People say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but this picture only says one: help (Photo courtesy of Matthew Abbott).

Many people consider Australia heaven on earth, but today it’s the opposite; Australia is hell. Since late December, the Southeast region of Australia has been on fire due to bushfires spreading 15.6 million acres. These fires have had massive effects on buildings, animals, and people. Since the fires started, 28 people have died and over one billion animals have been killed.

The bushfires have been raging for about a month with no signs of stopping. Many rumors were circulating on how the fires started including Australia’s drought, fire season, or authorities starting them. It has been revealed that part of the fires were started because of dry lightning. Unfortunately, the other reason why the fires occurred was due to citizens deliberately starting them. According to an Australian police statement, they’ve taken legal action on a total of 207 people with 24 of them already being charged for starting fires.

“I’m very angry that people would go out of their way [to set fires] to kill animals, wildlife, and destroy homes which is forcing people to evacuate,” said senior Devki Bhatt.

As previously mentioned, the fires have covered a total of 15.6 million acres causing much destruction to habitats. The fires have touched each state of Australia but have predominantly been burning in New South Wales and Victoria. Of course, the fires are directly affecting these states, but the smoke of the fires has spread across all of Australia affecting cities like Sydney and Melbourne.

Australia was forced to issue its third State of Emergency this fire season for its southern region. Sadly, these fires have taken 28 human lives, including volunteer firefighters and civilians. It was reported by “The Guardian” that most of the loss of life is because of the abrupt change of wind direction that forces the fires to move and harm the people.

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This is an aerial view of the fires burning across Australia (Photo courtesy of earthkarmacz).

Over 2,000 homes have been engulfed by the fire with signs of many more to come. Although it may just be a home, things will never be the same for these Australians. Another sad sight to see are all of the animals who are losing their habitats and homes such as Kangaroo Island. Kangaroo Island was once a lively and buzzing sanctuary for animals, but it has been engulfed in flames as you can now see one side of the island from the other.

Perhaps the most mind-boggling statistic is the staggering number of animals killed: over one billion, including Australia’s well-known species, kangaroos and koalas. Although this number is inflated since it includes insects and other small reptiles, it is still far too high of a number and is bound to go up. On top of that, a third of the koala population has been killed causing it to be extremely endangered. The fires are causing the animals to incinerate due to the heat or choke to death from the smoke. Many people seem to believe animals are invincible, but, unfortunately, they are like humans too and are affected in the same way. Perhaps the saddest sight to see is what occurred at the Mallacoota golf course in Victoria. A herd of kangaroos was able to escape the fires and found safety at this golf course. Although some were okay, the majority of them were suffering from third-degree burns and were forced to be put down.

“I’ve been a vet for 40 years, and I still don’t get used to it. Wholesale slaughter is awful. It still brings me to tears,” said Chris Barton, in charge of killing these animals, in a CNN interview.

Despite these kangaroos having to be put down, it is still a resilient sight to see that no matter what, these animals will never give up. There have been countless acts by people and fellow animals to save these animals including teenagers driving along the road and putting koalas in their car, a kelpie-border collie herding sheep to safety, or someone giving fresh water to a thirsty kangaroo in need.

“I want to give everyone a medal of honor for saving these animals,” said senior Benito Moreno.

Although this may seem like an exaggeration, it shows how thankful and happy people are about these animals being saved.

As the fires continue to rage, many people continue to donate their time and money to put a stop to them. Some acts worth mentioning are the thousands of volunteer firefighters from Australia and the United States who are putting their lives on the line to end these fires. Another spectacular sight to see is all of the people who are helping sew pouches for burnt animals to provide them comfort while they heal. Lastly, millions of people have helped raise billions of dollars to extinguish these fires, including Nicole Kiddman, Liam Hemsworth, Ben Simmons, and Elton John.

“People who are doing that are extremely generous. It’s great to see the outpouring support for Australia,” said senior Connor Beaule.

Although the fires continue to rage, we should always remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel. We should also remember that we can all help make a difference in one way or another whether it’s bringing awareness to the situation, sewing pouches, or donating money to charity funds for these catastrophic fires. Below are the charities and links to donate money to. Please consider donating to these sites and other established charities and organizations rather than GoFundMe pages. There have been multiple reports of GoFundMe pages stating they will donate the money to Australia but then pocket it for themselves.

Charities for people and putting the fires out:

Australian Red Cross

Salvation Army Australia

Save the Children

Charities for animals:

WIRES

Animals Australia Foundation

Animal Rescue Collective (for sewing group)