Australia can breathe a collective sigh of relief as New South Wales’ devastating bushfires are now said to be under control.
On Thursday, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service announced the news on Twitter, thanking the firefighters, emergency crews and community members who helped reach the momentous step forward amid the climate crisis that ravaged much of the country’s ecosystem.
“In what has been a very traumatic, exhausting and anxious bush fire season so far, for the first time this season all bush and grass fires in NSW are now contained,” the department wrote. “It has taken a lot of work by firefighters, emergency services and communities to get to this point.”
In a video included in the tweet, Rob Rogers, deputy commissioner and executive director of operations at NSW RFS, clarified that the containment doesn’t mean all fires are extinguished.
“After what’s been a truly devastating fire season for both firefighters and residents, who’ve suffered through so much this season, all fires are now contained in New South Wales, which is great news,” he said. “Not all fires are out — there’s still some fire activity in the far south of the state — but all fires are contained, so we can really focus on helping people rebuild.”
According to BBC News, for a wildfire to be deemed “contained,” firefighters need to have successfully created a perimeter around the blazes, preventing the burning from spreading.
New South Wales has experienced a large portion of the ravaging bushfires, which have killed at least 33 people and scorched some 27 million acres of land across Australia, BBC News reported, noting that’s about the size of England.
Earlier this week, parts of Australia got much-needed relief in the form of torrential rains that, while causing serious flooding, also helped put out much of the flames.
“This is the most positive news we’ve had in some time,” the NSW RFS officials wrote after the record levels of rain over the weekend. “The recent rainfall has assisted firefighters to put over 30 fires out since Friday. Some of these blazes have been burning for weeks and even months.”
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The bushfires — which experts estimates to have claimed the lives of more than 1 billion animals in the country — were expected to impact environments even after being put out.
Last month, NASA reported that smoke from the fires have had a “dramatic impact on New Zealand, causing severe air quality issues” and had already “traveled halfway around Earth,” reaching South America.
Because of the rate and strength at which the fires burned and the amount of pollution entering the air, NASA scientists believed that the smoke could make “at least one full circuit around the globe” before returning to its origins in Australia.
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