The state of play: American firefighters joined those in New South Wales and Victoria this week, along with the Australian Defense Force and some 3,000 Defense Force Reservists to help tackle the blazes that have killed at least 26 people this bushfire season.
In Victoria, a state of disaster declaration was not renewed after midnight on Jan. 11, due to milder conditions. Weather is forecast to be steady for the next few days, with more moisture in the air to aid containment, Incident Controller Paul Bates said Saturday evening.
- “We’re a long way from the end of this. We’re at only mid-January, and we’ve got a long way to go in terms of our fire season,” Neville said Saturday.
- “We’ve still got several weeks of this fire to go,” Bates emphasized.
In New South Wales, there are roughly 135 bush and grass fires burning. Nearly 50 fires were uncontained as of early Sunday morning, NSW Rural Fire Service said and all fires have been downgraded to the lowest emergency warning.
The impact: Since September, Australia’s bushfires have claimed the lives of 19 people in New South Wales, three in Victoria and three in South Australia, per Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
The big picture: The intense heat has caused more than 20 firestorms or unusual thunderstorms partially fueled by heat from the flames over the past week, according to NASA, which notes that “strong winds from these storms can fan fires into raging infernos.” Smoke particles from the fires have spread east over the Pacific Ocean.
Editor’s note: This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.