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Many people have been driven from their homes as fires continue to spread in Australia. According to reports, the fires which started in September 2019, have destroyed more than 14.6 million acres of land in Australia.

The damage done by these fires is more than twice the amount of damage caused by fires in the Amazon rainforest in August 2019. ABC News reports that these fires, said to be the worst bushfires of this magnitude recorded in decades, have caused the destruction of around 1000 homes and claimed the lives of 24 people.

An estimated 480 billion animals may also have been affected by the fires, according to a statement released by a biodiversity expert at the University of Sydney, Professor Chris Dickman. According to the statement: “This figure is based on a 2007 report for the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) on the impacts of land clearing on Australian wildlife in New South Wales (NSW)”. To come to the estimate that 480 billion animals were affected, Professor Dickman made use of the estimated mammal population in New South Wales, multiplied by the area of land affected by the fires. The statement also reveals that the figure only applies to the state of New South Wales and that the death toll of animals who died as a result of the fires could possibly be way higher. Although a large number of animals were killed by the fires directly, others may also have died as a result of a depletion of food supply and shelter.

Reports suggest that in 2019, Australia experienced its hottest drought conditions ever. Accompanied by strong winds, the bushfires have continued to spread throughout the southeast of Australia, causing fires and smoke to affect places such as New South Wales, Sydney, State of Victoria, Sunbury and smoke stretching as far as New Zealand which is 2000km away. The smoke and ash have left the skies orange and ashy and has drastically decreased the air quality.

Recent rainfall has proven unsuccessful in aiding the diminishment of the blazes but has bought authorities and firefighters some time to strategize and come up with better ways to tackle these ongoing fires.