Rain and cooler temperatures on Monday, Jan. 6, brought some relief to Australian communities battling the devastating wildfires that have ravaged the country.
But the rain was also making it challenging for fire crews attempting to complete strategic burns as they tried to prepare for higher temperatures that have been forecast for later in the week.
“With the more benign weather conditions, it presents some wonderful relief for everybody, the firefighters, the emergency services personnel, but also the communities affected by these fires,” Shane Fitzsimmons, commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, told reporters.
“But it also presents some real challenges when it comes to implementing tactical and strategic back-burns and other techniques to try and bring these fires under control.”
While temperatures have dropped in regions consumed by the deadly blaze, officials say the rain won’t be enough to put out the largest and most dangerous blazes before conditions deteriorate again this week, FOX 10 Phoenix reported.
Nationwide, at least 25 people have been killed and 2,000 homes destroyed, millions of animals are feared dead by the blazes which have so far scorched an area twice the size of the U.S. state of Maryland.
As efforts continue we’d like to acknowledge the fire crews & teams of people who worked tirelessly in the background over Xmas/New Years. Our thoughts are with affected communities & everyone working in challenging conditions as the fire effort goes on. Stay safe💚💛 #VicFires pic.twitter.com/KDwhyb8aVs
— ForestFireManagement (@FFMVic) January 6, 2020
Australians generally take a pragmatic view of summer wildfires. But this year the blazes arrived unusually early, fed by drought and the country’s hottest and driest year on record.
According to Newsweek, on Tuesday morning local time, in New South Wales, at least 130 fires were still burning and 2,000 firefighters were working to contain them.