Thousands flee from catastrophic fires in Queensland, Australia


australia fire queensland heat wave
Firefighters
refill their water from a water tanker in Pacific Drive in
Deepwater National Park area of Queensland on November 28, 2018.
– Thousands of people were being evacuated from their homes in
northeast Australia as bush fires raged across Queensland state
amid a scorching heatwave.

ROB
GRIFFITH/AFP/Getty Images


  • Australia’s northeastern region of Queensland is
    experiencing unprecedented heat waves and record-breaking
    wildfires. 
  • For the first time in history, fire danger in
    Queensland has been rated “catastrophic,” the highest
    possible level on 
    the
    Queensland government’s warning
    scale
    .
  • “We have never, ever, in this state, been in this
    situation before,” Queensland Fire and Emergency Services
    commissioner Katarina Carroll told
    the Associated Press
    .
  • Extreme weather brings the devastating impact of
    human-caused climate change into focus.

Australia’s northeastern Queensland region is experiencing
unprecedented heat waves and record-breaking wildfires. 

For the first time in history, the fire danger in
Queensland has been rated “catastrophic,” the highest
possible level on the Queensland
government’s warning scale

According to
Axios
, the threat level remains dire, as nearly 140 wildfires
ripped through the area on Thursday.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services commissioner Katarina
Carroll told
AP
Wednesday that extreme weather was “uncharted waters” for
the region. 

“We have never, ever, in this state, been in this situation
before,” she said.

Northern areas of Queensland, like popular tourist spot Cairns,
hit record temperatures upwards of 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) on
Friday, for the third day in a row. A weather station at
Cairns Racecourse hit 43.6 Celsius on both Monday and Tuesday,
according to
Nine News
, and record-high temperatures were also recorded in
Townsville, Innisfail, and Cooktown.

Warnings ranging from catastrophic to severe were issued
along Australia’s northern coast. High winds combined with hot
and dry air have resulted in heightened fire warnings, though the
conditions are unusual for the region which experiences its wet
season in late November.

Queensland’s Bureau od Meterology said Friday afternoon that the
heatwave would extend further west and south across the
country over the weekend. 

Authorities and scientists are warning that much of the Great
Barrier Reef, the largest living ecosystem on earth,
could be significantly damaged
due to the region’s extreme
weather. 

Thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes over
the last few days, as fires continue to spread. Residents of
Gracemere were told to evacuate on Wednesday, the
Guardian
reported, while communities near Mackay were alerted
of the fire dangers on Thursday. Many people have sought shelter
in nearby Rockhampton.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has
pledged f
ederal
assistance
to deal with the devastation.

“The entire country is coming to your aid. The entire
country is there to help in this time of great need,” Morrison
told reporters Wednesday evening.

The neighboring state of New South Wales also seen several
bushfires last week
.

Extreme heat has become more frequent across the globe,
shattering records and causing
devastating fires across major cities
. In July, Greece
declared 
a
state of emergency
as massive fires devastated entire
towns. California experienced
its deadliest fire in history
this month.

Extreme weather brings the devastating impact of human-led
climate change into focus. According to the
World Meteorological Organization
, the 20 warmest years ever
recorded were in the past 22 years. The four warmest have been
the past four years.

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