Wildfires in Australia

Wildfires are blazing across southeast Australia. Nearly sixty different fires are currently burning in the state of New South Wales –the country’s most populous region. The largest, nearly 190 miles wide, is burning in the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney.

Since last Thursday, according to local officials, more than two hundred homes have been destroyed and at least one death has been reported. While the exact causes of these intense fires have not yet been identified, recent weather conditions have not been helpful.

According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, September 2012 to August 2013 was the country’s warmest twelve-month period on record. On top of that, the past few months have been unusually dry. These extended hot and parched conditions have dried out vegetation, which in turn, is helping to fuel the flames of this massive wildfire outbreak.

While wildfires are common in Australia during the summer, that season does not officially begin until December in the southern hemisphere.  The early start and widespread scope of the current fires are very unusual.