Australia fires live: South Australia, NSW and Victoria brace for return of bushfire danger – latest updates – The Guardian

7.30pm EST19:30

NSW Corrections media has said staff and inmates from the Illawarra reintegration centre have been helping to rebuild the Bargo dingo shelter, which was destroyed by bushfires.
The shelter’s gardens, sheds and showroom, which had half a century of memorabilia in it, were completely gutted.
Two Corrective Services staff have overseen the 13 minimum security inmates clear the area and fix fences and sewer lines in an attempt to rebuild the shelter.
A team of two Corrective Services NSW overseers and 13 minimum-security inmates have cut fallen trees, cleared debris and fixed fences and a sewer line as part of the project.
From the statement:

Dingo sanctuary president and founding director Luci Ellem said they greatly appreciated the group’s efforts at the facility, south-west of Sydney.
“We just don’t have the resources so it’s been fantastic to have extra hands to help with the clean-up,” Ellem said.
“The correctional staff and inmates have worked really hard and I can’t thank them enough.
“Dingoes have a special aura about them and I feel they’ve provided comfort to the inmates.”

The inmates also set up shade cloth to help the dingoes settle into their new pens.
More information from the statement:
The sanctuary is run by the Australian Native Dog Conservation Society, which was formed in 1976 by Berenice Walters to promote understanding and knowledge of Australia’s native dog, the dingo, and its official recognition and protection as native fauna.
If you would like to donate to the Bargo Dingo Sanctuary or help with the rebuild, visit dingosanctuarybargo.com.au for more information.

Updated
at 7.32pm EST

7.23pm EST19:23

Updated
at 7.24pm EST

7.07pm EST19:07

Kylie Jenner has donated US$1m to Australian firefighters and those impacted by the fires – the ABC followed up with some of the recipients, which included Queensland, to help them prepare for future seasons.

Kylie Jenner has donated $200,000 to the Rural Fire Brigades Association of Queensland, stunning its general manager who knew little about the makeup mogul and questioned if she had made a mistake.
Justin Choveaux got the call from Ms Jenner’s New York publicist yesterday morning, with the money being transferred today.
“The first thing I said was, ‘are you sure it’s us?’” Mr Choveaux said.
“I said ‘we are the Rural Fire Brigades Association, we support brigades and volunteers in Queensland, if you want your money to help people who have lost everything that’s not us, we don’t do that’.
“But the person who represents the Jenners said ‘we are donating a million dollars, and we want $200,000 to go to rural firefighters in Queensland’.
“Obviously I said ‘that’s fantastic’.”

Kylie Jenner has pledged US$1m. Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Updated
at 7.15pm EST

7.03pm EST19:03

There have been a lot of questions around this, particularly since we keep hearing we will “meet and beat” our Paris target, in the midst of this disaster.

Michael E. Mann
(@MichaelEMann)
Australian bushfires have released about 350 million tons of CO2. That’s about 2/3 of Australia’s annual carbon emissions: https://t.co/GkSP4DALAe https://t.co/82WwBZqTiC

January 8, 2020

Updated
at 7.31pm EST

7.01pm EST19:01

Andrew Crisp APM
(@CommissionerEMV)
Sincere condolences to all those who knew Mat. To his family, friends and colleagues, the thoughts of our emergency services family are with you at this time. To everyone, take care https://t.co/HPhYj1cnBz

January 8, 2020

6.44pm EST18:44

Water contamination is still an issue in many of the fire zones and surrounds.
Professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of NSW, Stuart Khan, has written on that today, for the Conversation.

Stuart Khan
(@stukhan)
Something I wrote today: “Bushfires pose serious short- and long-term impacts to public drinking water quality. They can damage water supply infrastructure and water catchments, impeding the treatment processes that normally make our water safe to drink”. https://t.co/HiCLZ4y68o

January 7, 2020

Updated
at 6.46pm EST

6.42pm EST18:42

For those still wondering what a state of disaster means – it basically gives authorities more compulsion powers.
If they tell you to go, you have to go.

From VicEmergency:
The declaration is made where the premier agrees there is an emergency that constitutes, or is likely to constitute, a significant and widespread danger to life or property.
This declaration gives the Victorian government the powers and resources it needs to keep Victorians safe. It is the first time such powers have been used since they were included in the Emergency Management Act 1986 following the 2009 Victorian bushfires.
The declaration applies to the local government areas of East Gippsland Shire, Mansfield Shire, Wellington Shire, Wangaratta Rural Shire, Towong Shire, Alpine Shire, and Mount Buller, Mount Hotham, Falls Creek and Mount Stirling Alpine Resorts.
A state of disaster:

may be declared to exist in the whole, or parts, of Victoria
exists immediately upon the making of the declaration and remains in force for one month (unless another declaration is made)
can be revoked or varied by the premier at any time.

People in these areas must follow advice from emergency services. Do not travel to these areas and if you are in any of these areas, leave now if it is safe to do so. The community should monitor advice and warnings at emergency.vic.gov.au (External link)

Updated
at 6.44pm EST

6.41pm EST18:41

Daniel Andrews says he has not taken the decision to extend the state of disaster easily, but he believes it is necessary to save lives.

I think people know that we don’t take steps lightly.
I think people know that we issue advice because our experts, the fire modelling, the bureau, conditions on the ground … This is not a step that is taken lightly.
It is a very serious thing to do.
It was recommended after the Black Saturday inquiry.
That royal commission said we needed this power. This is only the second time we’ve used it.
So once a week ago and extending it now. I think that any risk, as you outlined, [declaring a state of disaster even if conditions don’t turn out to be that bad] is one that’s worth taking because this is about keeping people safe, saving lives and making sure that the job of emergency services is just that little bit easier.
I think this is exactly the decision to make and that’s why I took that decision the other week and why we are extending the state of disaster for another 48 hours.

Updated
at 6.45pm EST

6.33pm EST18:33

Andrew Crisp says authorities are still conducting assessments of homes lost in East Gippsland.
So far, they have made it to 2,800 property assessments. 244 homes “have been impacted in one way or another”. All up, Crisp says 400 “structures” have been hit – that includes sheds and things like that. But there are still areas they haven’t been able to get into because of the smoke and fire risk.

Updated
at 6.36pm EST

6.25pm EST18:25

The Victorian authorities are really stressing the “leave now” message.
Andrew Crisp:

We know what we have got in terms of fire and fire grounds, it is what we don’t know.
What might be the new fires which starts today. What, with the change tomorrow, if there is dry lightning and a new fire starts. Don’t leave it too late.
You might have a plan but because of dry lightning or new fires tomorrow, the roads could be cut.
We don’t want any more isolated communities or families, so get completely out of that fire affected area and move to major regional centres.

Updated
at 6.31pm EST

6.19pm EST18:19

Fifteen million dollars has been donated to the Victorian bushfire appeal so far, Daniel Andrews says.
He says every dollar in the state’s appeal will go to families who have been impacted by the fires.

Updated
at 6.21pm EST

6.18pm EST18:18

Victorian emergency services minister Lisa Neville says fire strike teams are being moved into place, given the predicted conditions for tomorrow:

Victorians will again tomorrow face hot, windy, dry conditions, with a significant change that comes through at different times in the day but with significant winds, particularly over the fire grounds later in the day.
As we said yesterday, the safest place to be tomorrow is not in those fire-affected areas.
If you are unsure, we will be sending out alerts to people via text message and as we did last week and the Sunday before that, you will receive that alert which will indicate to you that the safest place to be is not in those areas and that if you can leave, you should leave.
Based on the weather predictions that we have got today, all our agencies, so VicPol and CFA and MFS and they are prepositioning strike teams and assets into those areas where we have the most significant concerns.

6.13pm EST18:13

The Victorian emergency commissioner, Andrew Crisp, says there are 23 ongoing fires in the state’s north-east region at the moment.
It had been 12. They are not new fires, but they have split the fires up (in terms of names) to make it easier for people in the impacted communities to understand which are close to them.
Of those 23 fires, 13 have watch and act alerts.
More than 1.2m hectares has been burned since 21 November.

Updated
at 6.20pm EST

6.04pm EST18:04

Significant fire activity expected over the next 48 hours in Victoria

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, says the state of disaster declaration will remain in place for at least another 48 hours, after receiving a briefing on the weather conditions for the next two days.

It’s always difficult to predict how challenging the next couple of days will be but with so much fire in the landscape with such a massive fire edge, with hot weather and significant winds, there’s every reason to think we are going to have more fire today and, of course, tomorrow and potentially right into the weekend.
This is a really significant challenge for us. We don’t underestimate it. We don’t lightly extend the state of disaster. We have done it because we believe that it will save lives and that, after all, is the most important thing.

Updated
at 6.19pm EST

6.01pm EST18:01

The Australia Institute has done some polling on what sort of response people want in terms of the climate emergency.
– Two in three Australians (66%) agree that Australia is facing a climate change emergency and should take emergency action. Only one in four Australians (23%) disagree.
– Two in three Australians (63%) agree that governments should mobilise all of society to tackle climate change, like they did during the world wars.
– A majority of Coalition (56%), Labor (74%) and Greens voters (80%) agree that governments should mobilise all of society to tackle climate change.
And here was the method, for those wondering:
“The Australia Institute conducted a national survey of 1,424 people between 1 and 15 November 2019, online through Dynata with nationally representative samples by gender, age, state and territory, and household income. The margin of error (95% confidence level) for the national results is 2.6%. Results are shown only for larger states.”

Updated
at 6.18pm EST

5.54pm EST17:54

The road to Corryong has been reopened – but only for residents. And it could close at anytime.
From VicEmergency:

Murray Valley Highway from Bullioh to Corryong For access past the Traffic Management Points, residents must provide photo ID and proof of residency for access to Corryong.
The Murray Valley Highway will be open between 7.00am to 8.00pm each day. The road will be closed at 8.00pm each day at Bullioh and Corryong. You will not be able to return after this time. It is unsafe to drive on this road at night.
This road is subject to closure at any time based on fire risk or operational activity.

Updated
at 6.17pm EST

5.40pm EST17:40

Canberra is still suffering from hazardous air quality (it is not so bad now but last night the smoke came rolling through again).
The ACT health minister has put out this update:

Rachel Stephen-Smith
(@RachelSS_MLA)
We’ve seen a bit of fluctuation in #canberrasmoke over the last 24 hours. In response to community feedback @ACTHealth has created a new page tracking average hourly PM2.5 data for each station. Please read instructions & explanations carefully: https://t.co/iwKkpKN98h

January 8, 2020

You’ll find that website, here

Updated
at 6.16pm EST

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