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Australia fires ‘long way from over’ but rain brings relief

14 January 2020

While battling the blazes, volunteer firefighting veteran Mick Stain found some moth larvae, or "witchetty grubs", and turned them into what Is known in Australia as bush tucker by roasting them directly on the fire's burning coals.

Seventy-one firefighters from the U.S. and Canada arrived this week to help with firefighting efforts and they will assist the Victoria Rural Fire Service, the largest fire service in the Australian state of Victoria.

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, said that 90 firefighters including on-the-ground hand crews left in recent days to fight fires that have scorched an area twice the size of the USA state of Maryland.

Despite growing domestic and global criticism, Prime Minister Scott Morrison - who has long touted the importance of commodity exports such as coal for Australia's economy - has repeatedly defended his government's climate policies.

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More than 100 activists brandishing signs reading "burning earth", "Scott Morrison is a fire starter" and "wake up and smell the smoke", demanded more action to tackle the fires, outside the Australian high consulate at the Strand in London.

He said his government accepts that climate change will lead to longer, warmer and drier summers, despite the fact that junior lawmaker George Christensen posted on social media this weekend that the cause of the latest fires was arson rather than human-made climate change.

The progress came after a firefighter was killed by a falling tree. Morrison said that the government has been working with the Victorian Government to declare three of those councils as Category C assistance areas. He said that 60-year-old Slade was praised in November last year for his 40 years of service in the forest agency.

The milder conditions offer firefighters an opportunity to strengthen containment lines in fire-ravaged areas. Ave said only a minority of the fires were deliberately started.

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Another junior politician, Craig Kelly, has also publicly denied any link between climate change and fire crisis. "Our party room has a broad range of views", Mr Morrison said of those within government ranks who reject mainstream climate science.

As the fires raged on, Professor Dickman revised that estimate this week to more than 800 million killed in New South Wales, adding that he figured more than one billion had died across the country.

Not only rain affected the agricultural production but it also helped in spreading the fire.

"There has been a deep scar in the landscape that has been left across our country", said Morrison.

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While the threat of fire is most acute in rural communities, the smoke from the forest fires that have smothered some of Australia's largest cities reminds many urban Australians of the ongoing disaster.

Australia fires ‘long way from over’ but rain brings relief