Australia’s wildfires: Bear the dog is here to help
An Australian border collie is helping to locate koala bears amidst the Australian wildfires.
As the fires rip through the countryside, the wildlife are being killed by the thousands.
More extreme weather is hitting Australia as they see giant dust storms, hail and flooding on top of the wildfires.
Australia’s capital, Canberra, was hit by a hailstorm that dropped golf ball sized hail over the city on Monday. Cars were dented and given broken windows by the falling ice and debris fell to the ground.
The dust storm came through and hit New South Wales. Global News reported the wall of dust being 300 kilometers long with winds blowing as fast as 107 kilometers per hour.
Brisbane and Gold Coast in eastern Australia saw flash floods after being hit by heavy storms.
The wildfires are raging on along with the other extreme weather. The rainfall that has recently come to NSW has helped the fires but only to a certain extent.
So far, we know that 28 people have lost their lives due to the fires. Approximately 2,600 homes have been demolished as the fires have covered over 10 million hectares.
According to Authorities, rising temperatures could cause fires to become more dangerous over the next week.
Many of those involved in fighting the Australian bushfires are considered heroic. Patsy the dog is one of them.
When the wildfires were combing over land in Upper Murray, Victoria on New Year’s Eve, many animals were searching for somewhere safe.
According to Global News, the 6-year-old dog herded about 900 sheep for hours until they found safety.
The Kelpie/Border Collie’s owner, Stephen Hill said, “I’d have been stuffed without Patsy.”
“She’s earned front-seat privileges for the rest of her life.”
Now, Patsy has a social media channel and there are pictures and some footage of the dog working away.
In one picture, the caption reads, “This is Patsy just after she and her human brought the sheep to safety on the morning of New Year’s Eve. Cool as a cucumber, Patsy waited with him until the fire got close enough to fight with a tractor and water pump. What a team!”
Her owner wrote, “I never dreamed that these 20 seconds of Patsy in a paddock would spread across the world, and that me posting pictures of a little black and white dog would become my way to help my hometown recover from the worst fires in living memory.”
“It’s funny how life works sometimes. These fires are not over. Not even close to being over. They will burn for weeks, months even, and communities all over Australia are going to be hit just like Corryong has been.”
With other animals still in need, the New South Wales government is planning on dropping literal tons of food. Included will be carrots and sweet potatoes to help the endangered brush-tailed rock-wallabies and more.
In a statement on Sunday, the NSW environment minister, Matt Kean noted, “The wallabies were already under stress from the ongoing drought, making survival challenging”
More wildlife recovery measures are planned and it is hoped that the food drops will help the endangered species.
An estimated half a billion animal lives have been lost due to the Australian wildfires.
An Australian man accused with setting fires during the province of Victoria’s bushfire season has been subjected to a monsoon of death threats for what locals believe was his role in setting the country ablaze.
Michael Truong, 36, was arrested 20 kilometres east of Bairnsdale by Johnsonville police last week, and has since had to deal with waves of death threats during his court appearance, where he was charged with starting bushfires.
Over 500 million hectares of land in Victoria has burnt out in the East Gippsland area, with three people confirmed dead. In total, more than 25 have died in this year’s fires, with an estimated 500 million animals also dying.
Truong was setting fires in the bushland when he was approached by local residents who grew suspicious of him and his loitering vehicle. Residents say that Truong was setting ablaze shrubbery with paper.
Truong was quickly taken into custody by local police. Detective Sergeant Margaret Schulz
“He was (caught) straight away, because of the location, the neighbours were onto him straight away and they then rang the CFA,” Schulz told Daily Mail Australia.
“It was a very small fire and it’s certainly not linked to what’s going on in relation to all the other fires. All our fires have been started by lightening strikes.”
After being discovered by locals, Truong attempted to flee the scene, though he was quickly stopped and apprehended until police arrived.
Truong, who has no permanent address, is believed to have been living in his vehicle, with there currently being no motive for the fires or why he was in Victoria in the first place.
Truong is only a suspect in one fire, according to Detective Schulz. “There is no information at this point that he has been responsible for anything else. Obviously he’s got some issues,” she said.
Police say Truong has not co-operated with their investigation, even complaining to court officials that locals had “banged on his windows” upon his arrest.
Despite being hit with countless death threats both in the courthouse and online, Detective Schulz believes those who arrested Truong were “quite restrained.”
“I was actually thinking he’s lucky nothing more had happened,’ she said. ‘As to what his plan was or why he was doing it, Lord only knows.”
In 2019, 12 people in Victoria were charged with causing bushfires.
Australians cheered on Canadian wildfire workers as they arrived at the Airport in Sydney after an almost 16-hour flight.
They are the most recent Canadians to arrive in there to help with the ongoing wildfires.
Senior representative of the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, Morgan Kehr told CBC, “It’s something we really have to wrap our heads around,” she added, “We have seen extreme fire behaviour in Canada. But not over the geographic area we are dealing with here. Or with the frequency.”
As the new deployment of Canadians arrives in Australia, the country is experiencing fires that have scorched 20 times the amount of land that they burn in an average year.
The Canadians helping in Australia are not fighting fires on the ground but are specialists trained in aviation and predicting the future location of the fires. They are involved in organization and planning.
There are 95 Canadians helping in Australia, including previous deployments.
The extremely dry conditions have caused the fires that started much earlier than they generally do to fiercely carry on. The NSW Rural Fire Service facing the dangerous conditions is made up of mostly volunteers.
Will Lee, a group captain for the service said, “It’s the largest voluntary fire service in the world.”
“A fire came through here the other day, fairly ferociously, and it was stopped by a ton of heroes,” he added.
Usually the Australian law gives 10 days off of their regular job to every volunteer to fight fires. This year’s circumstances have caused many volunteers to have to stay on the service for months.
Luckily temperatures have lowered slightly this week and some rain has been falling around the coastal areas where the fires are.
The temperatures look like they will be rising to the 30s again soon and winds are projected to pick up as well. This may be enough to cause the contained fires to lose control again.
According to CBC, 3,000 reservists for the Australian military will be joining the firefighters.
A large Royal Australian Navy ship called HMAS is also making preparations to bring those in danger on board. The ship has a large number of cots ready and will bring those on board to the open water.
Insp. Ben Shepherd of the RFS referred to the current conditions saying, “I have been in the rural fire service for over 20 years and have never seen it to this magnitude.”
Canada has been able to bring resources to Australia as there are enough to spare in the off season.
Shepherd also noted, “Where traditionally we would have seen a quiet time of the year, we don’t have that anymore.”
As we approach our fire season in Canada, some of the deployed Canadians will be coming back to Canada in order to prepare.