The fire seared an area of the national park three times the size of Greater London and lit several connected blazes totalling over 800,000 hectares — an area larger than Austria. Dozens of other fires are yet to be controlled.
The climate-change-fueled fires have prompted an international outpouring and donations from around the world to help communities and animal populations.
As wet weather promised to deliver much-needed relief for countryside ravaged by bushfires, on Monday, Exhausted firefighters said they had finally brought Australia’s largest “mega blaze”.
According to New South Wales firefighters, finally, the team had the upper hand in the fight against the vast Gosper’s Mountain fire on Sydney’s northwestern outskirts, which has been burning for almost three months.
Both officials and residents continued to come to grips with the sheer scale of the destruction, the Bureau of Meteorology forecast some fire-grounds areas could get up to 50 millimetres (two inches) of rain in the next week, a relief after a prolonged drought.
The NSW said that if that forecast comes true, it would be all of their Christmas, birthday, engagement, anniversary, wedding and graduation presents rolled into one. Fingers crossed.
NSW rural fire service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons while visiting the area on Monday, said there was a small area of burning still to complete, but the containment prognosis was promising.
Australia’s environment minister Sussan Ley has warned that in some areas, koalas may have to be reclassified as endangered. The country’s special flora and fauna have taken a catastrophic blow, with an estimated one billion animals killed, and countless trees and shrubs burned away.
For these reasons, the Australian government has earmarked an initial $50 million (US$35 million) to spend on helping with the wildlife recovery. While announcing the emergency fund, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that this had been an ecological disaster that is still unfolding.
The Newspoll survey showed 59 percent of Australian voters are dissatisfied with the conservative leader’s performance overall, and only 37 percent were satisfied, an abrupt reversal since his shock election win last May.
The political effect of the bushfires is also coming into sharper relief. A poll released Monday showed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s approval ratings have nosedived in the face of widespread anger over his handling of the deadly crisis.
Morrison has been criticized heavily for his response to the months-long crisis – which included going on holiday to Hawaii, making a series of gaffes and misleading statements about his government’s actions, and forcing angry victims to shake his hand.