Australians urged to evacuate as bushfires continue to rage

This appeared in The Millennial Source

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Extreme fire conditions in Victoria, a large state in southwestern Australia, have led officials to advise residents to evacuate.

Citizens along the coast are especially vulnerable with temperatures set to rise over the next several days. Temperatures could reach more than 110ºF (43.33ºC). With extremely dry conditions in many areas, the threat of expanded bushfires is high.

Andrew Crisp, Victoria’s emergency management commissioner, makes the threat posed by the heatwave clear: “We’re expecting a significant increase in fire activity tomorrow. The Premier has extended the State of Disaster for another 48 hours. If you are in fire-affected parts of North East Victoria or East Gippsland, you need to leave these areas while you still can,” he said in a tweet on January 8.

Since the fires started, at least 26 people have died. Some estimates show that up to a billion animals may have been impacted by the fires, with millions potentially dead.

Misinformation and its impact

Now, climate change deniers are using this to argue that the fires have little to do with rising temperatures and drought. Experts, however, say that there is little evidence that the actions of a few dozen arsonists are to blame.

Richie Merzian, the director of the Climate & Energy Program at the Australia Institute, a public policy think tank, says claims of arson are being used to distract the public from the real cause of the fires. “The number of arsonists this summer [is] not higher than usual — the only thing that has changed is the disinformation campaign to elevate this as [a] key cause to explain the unprecedented bush fires,” he said.

Volunteers are ready

“But there are a lot of people out here who are self-employed, and running their own businesses, and they’re giving up thousands and thousands of dollars in lost income,” says Gary Creer, a local volunteer with 20 years’ experience in the organization. “They helped us steer this fire around the whole of the bay and basin area, and kept it going north, and kept us safe.”

Originally published at on January 11, 2020.

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