BC tries to help as devastating Australian fires rage on

BC tries to help as devastating Australian fires rage on
WatchAs hundreds of Australian fires continue to rage, B.C. is doing what it can to help the dire situation. Tess van Straaten reports.

It’s a disaster of epic proportions — unimaginable devastation in Australia that’s only getting worse.

“We can’t be complacent,” New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters Monday. “The fire season will last until at least the end of March and given weather conditions could even be beyond that time.”

The latest images from the front lines are even more terrifying.

They show firefighters up against a wall of flames, with little hope of gaining the upper hand.

It’s an apocalyptic scene, with skies turning blood red and neighbourhoods reduced to rubble as thousands flee the flames.

“It was extremely smokey and I could feel heat,” says one woman who had to flee her home on horseback. “It was terrifying.”

There are hundreds of bushfires raging across the continent right now.

More than eight million hectares have burned since the fires began in September.

At least 25 people are dead and 2,000 homes have been destroyed.

Half a billion animals have perished — including a third of the koala population — and many more are fighting for their lives.

“I don’t know what I can say about how serious it is beyond ‘very’.” says Gary Horsman of the B.C. Wildfire Service. “We’ve worked in these type of conditions before and that’s why they’ve asked for our assistance.”

Horsman, who’s been fighting wildfires for three decades, is on his way to Australia to join 18 other B.C. fire personal.

Canada’s sent a total of 95 people to assist with the fire fighting efforts.

“None of us are set up to experience the worst, most catastrophic year so just like we needed assistance in 2017 and 2018 in B.C., it’s an opportunity to assist them when they need help.”

The BC Salvation Army is also on standby to help its counterparts Down Under, who are providing food, water and support for fire crews and evacuees.

“We’re on high alert right now and we’re ready to deploy our trained volunteers and staff at any moment,” says Patricia Mamic of the Salvation Army British Columbia Division. “It’s just heartbreaking to see the images of people suffering, the fires, the animals.”

Donations can be made online or by calling 1-800-Sal-Army (1-800-725-2769).

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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