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Australia braces for summer bushfire threat

HISTORY: Fighting fire, with fire.

These proactive burns carried out by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service hope to destroy any fuel that a bushfire may consume.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology declared an El Niño event in the country on Tuesday (September 19), predicting a hot, dry summer and, with it, increased risks of widespread bushfires.

Here is firefighter Elisabeth Gos.

“One of the reasons we are doing strategic hazard reductions is to reduce the fuel load and mitigate the impact and severity of fires when they reach a particular area.”

Fresh in the country’s mind is the Black Summer of four years ago.

The relentless wildfires devastated 24 million hectares (59.3 million acres), destroyed 3,000 homes, killed 33 people and an estimated three billion native animals.

But this year’s threat comes after three wet summers since then, brought on by La Nina, which has halted preparations to curtail new growth, RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers told Reuters.

“We’ve just had rain after rain after rain event, so we’re pretty far behind. So over the last year (June 2022 – June 2023), for example, we’ve only done 24% of the prep work we wanted to do.” .risk reduction, so overdue.”

Climate experts believe that as new vegetation growth driven by heavy rain dries out, it could create the perfect conditions for wildfires to break out.

A sparkling start to spring this month has already brought record heat to many parts of Sydney. Some regional schools have closed due to the risk of wildfires, a month before the official start of the season.

But authorities believe the chances of a repeat of the Black Summer are low.

“We are not suffering from a four-year drought, which is where we were then. But it is a different risk and it is certainly the most significant risk we have faced since 19-20 and we are taking it very seriously.”

It is also a race against time to train volunteers. The service has more than 75,000 people.

But many did not return after the summer of 2019-2020.

“I don’t think anyone came out of that season (2019 – 2020 wildfires) the same way as when they came in and I think it’s important to keep in mind that firefighters deal with a lot of things, but at the same time, “We need to come together and take care of ourselves. each other.”

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