On November the 7th 2019, the very day California's biggest, most ruinous wildfire that year was declared fully contained and extinguished, a new horror show erupted in New South Wales, Australia. Several massive, out of control wildfires ignited after months of drought conditions, record heat and strong dry winds. The fires exploded for months on end, killing or injuring more than 3 billion animals, burning almost 25% of Australia's temperate forests and destroying 60% of the total crop output.
A year on and California has now taken the baton from Australia in 2020. California has suffered its worst wildfire season in living memory this year with more than a month still to go before the season ends. However, ominous signs are coming from down under as their wildfire season has started a month earlier than last years disastrous season.
Here we go again?
Far North Queensland residents have been ordered to flee from their homes as a "large, dangerous and uncontrolled" bushfire rages. The blaze, burning near Cooktown, about 170 kilometres north of Cairns, was not of concern at 11.45am on Saturday, but a few hours later, an emergency situation was declared.
The evacuation order came at 2.20pm, and in a later update, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service said firefighters may soon be unable to stop the flames from advancing. "There is a bushfire travelling on both sides of Oaky Creek Road in Cooktown. Leaving immediately is the safest option as it will soon be too dangerous to drive," the QFES said in a statement.
"A large, dangerous and uncontrolled fire is in the vicinity of Ironwood Ave and Oaky Creek Road. "It is expected to impact multiple properties in the surrounding area. The fire is expected to have a significant impact on the community. "Residents evacuating are to leave north via Endeavour Valley Road. "If you cannot leave, identify where you will seek shelter from the bushfire. If you are not in the area, do not return as conditions are too dangerous.
"Conditions are now very dangerous and firefighters may soon be unable to prevent the fire advancing. "The fire may pose a threat to all lives directly in its path. Fire crews may not be able to protect your property. You should not expect a firefighter at your door."
A bushfire emergency warning has been issued for the coastal Tasmanian town of St Helens as firefighters battle windy conditions. Tasmania Fire Service says the blaze at St Helens-Stonyford Track on Saturday afternoon put the area at high risk. "This fire will be difficult to control," they said. "Burning embers falling on St Helens-Stonyford Track will threaten your home before the main fire.
"Smoke and ash will make it difficult to see and breathe." The Bureau of Meteorology says winds of up to 50km/h will ease this afternoon and forecasts an 80 per cent chance of rain this evening. Break O'Day Mayor Mick Tucker told the ABC the fire started from a fuel reduction burn earlier in the week which had jumped containment lines.