Forest fires ravaged three houses in the Bega Valley area of southeastern Australia, with a man also getting injured due to a tree toppling onto his car. On Wednesday, an official alert was issued about an impending “horrific” wildfire season.
Recent record dry conditions in September combined with unusually high temperatures have resulted in numerous wildfires erupting across the states of New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania.
Unseasonably warm spring conditions fan the flames of fires across the southeast, driven by hot, arid winds.
This signals an early onset of the yearly wildfire season, typically most intense during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer.
The Bureau of Meteorology reports that Australia has experienced its driest September ever, with rainfall plunging to 71% below the average of 1961-1990.
Victoria is anticipated to see a swift shift in conditions by Tuesday afternoon. While anticipated heavy rainfall could aid in extinguishing the fires, it also poses a risk of flash flooding.
In the Bega Valley, a significant fire, which jeopardized several communities, decimated three residences on Tuesday evening, scorching over 5,200 hectares (12,800 acres). Following a tree’s collision with his vehicle on Wednesday morning, a man in his forties was hospitalized in a stable state.
On Wednesday, rainfall across southeastern Australia mitigated the wildfire threats but instigated flood alerts in some regions of Victoria.
Describing the situation faced by firefighters in Bega Valley, which is 260 miles south of Sydney, New South Wales Premier Chris Minns stated they had endured a “torrid 24 hours.”
Despite being just spring’s start, Minns highlighted that parts of New South Wales have felt like mid-summer.
During a visit to the fire-affected region alongside Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Minns cautioned, “Brace yourselves for a daunting summer.”
By Wednesday evening, while the Bega Valley fire remained unconfined, it was no longer perceived as a direct threat to lives or structures, as per the Rural Fire Service.
Emphasizing the crucial role of the firefighters, Rural Fire Service Commissioner Rob Rogers expressed that damage in Bega Valley could have been much worse without their dedication.
He emphasized, “The fire season has undoubtedly commenced; we must address it with utmost seriousness.”