As Australia is facing one of the worst bushfires seasons in its history, Images of red-tinted skies, smoldering foliage and people shielding them from smoke are emerging from the country.
Firefighters are working exhaustively to contain the growing wildfires in every state in the country. Meanwhile, record-breaking summer heat and a persisting drought continue to make matters worse.
So far, blazes have burned across 14.7 million acres in Australia. In New South Wales alone, the state hit hardest this season, 150 fires ― 64 of which are still uncontained ― have burned through 8.9 million acres. At least 18 people have died since the start of the fire season in September, reported the New York Times. Thousands of houses have been destroyed.
Two of the victims were firefighters who were killed while fighting the blaze near Sydney in December. An NSW fire official told AP that four people in the state died while trying to flee from the fire in their cars.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison faced backlash from the Bushfire victims and an angry firefighter in a town ravaged by bushfires. He was virtually heckled by the victims and fireman on Friday. In the recent unprecedented bushfires, around 18 people have been killed. A firefighter refused to shake Morrison's hand when he visited the town of Cobargo in New South Wales State on Thursday. Video footage showed Mr. Morrison tried to grab the man's hand, but the man got up and walked away, sparking an apology from the prime minister.
First time in the country’s history the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called out up to 3,000 army reservists to assist in the bushfire crisis. Following Saturday's meeting of the National Security Committee, Morrison said in a joint media release, "the task in front of our country today and in the weeks ahead requires us to do whatever it takes". Besides, the government will lease four extra planes to follow a request from the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council for one additional water bombing aircraft and to meet any further requests.