Australia's Fraser Island Continues Battling Uncontrollable Bushfire Following Hottest November on Record
Fraser Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for being the world’s largest sand island at more than 75 miles long, occupying a total of 450,000 acres of land. But its unique ecosystem might have contributed to how destructive the fire has been.
Australian firefighters are continuing to battle a massive bushfire on popular tourist destination Fraser Island that has been burning out of control for the past six weeks, authorities said. The blaze off Australia’s east coast is believed to have been ignited by an illegal campfire and exacerbated by drought and heatwave in what experts are calling the hottest November on record.
Tourists and staff at the site had been evacuated as the fires encroach on local attractions, and local resorts received “prepare to leave” warnings. The bushfires have already torn through nearly 200,000 acres of bush land since the blaze began six weeks ago, officials said.
Fraser Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for being the world’s largest sand island at more than 75 miles long, occupying a total of 450,000 acres of land. Also known by its aboriginal name of K’gari, the island is also home to tall rainforests that grow in the sand, a complex system of sand dunes and a large population of dingoes.
But what makes the island unique may also have contributed to the uncontrollable bushfire, that had already destroyed 42% of the island by Monday. "The vegetation on Fraser Island is extremely dry and because it's so dry, it's therefore very easy to ignite," incident controller James Haig told AFP.
Additionally, meteorologists said climate change may be exacerbating the damage. The area is in a drought and Australia saw seven out of the last nine years experience record breaking temperatures.
“We really need rain and we’re unfortunately not likely to receive it in some time,” Haig said.
The geography on the island also makes it hard for emergency crews to fight the fire effectively. Queensland fire service said the sand makes it difficult to for more than 30 fire crews to work on the island simultaneously.
While emergency crews continue battling the blaze using water bombs, authorities warned locals that conditions may become worse, and that they shouldn’t expect firefighters to protect their properties or personally evacuate residents.
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