By FELICIA FALLANO
Orange flames vastly engulfed the forest while firefighters rushed to the scene to hose down wildfires that were ablaze for 1,000 miles along the Blue Mountain in Australia's most populous city this month. These wildfires have been growing dangerously and now threaten suburban areas of Sydney with their ability to spread so rapidly.
The fires have left the citizens of Sydney devastated by the damage. There have been reports of over 70 wildfires and more than 200 homes have been destroyed, damaged or burned to the ground by bushfires near the city. Hundreds have been left homeless, and one elderly man died of a suspected heart attack while trying to protect his home from the flames. Schools were closed down and residents were moved from their homes. The fires have been not only affecting the homes and vegetation, but the air quality and have raised concerns over the health of these people, with health officials worried about respiratory issues.
Aside from the tragic losses of homes and health issues, there has been speculation over the cause of these wildfires and bushfires. An eleven-year-old boy has been charged for intentionally lighting two fires on Oct. 13th; a fifteen-year-old boy was also involved. Both have been arrested. Christiana Figueres, the United Nations climate chief, believes that climate change is absolutely the reason for the bushfires. On the other hand, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott disagrees with Figueres’ opinion. These fires have put pressure on Abbott, who has repealed a carbon emissions tax, to take immediate action regarding climate change. Has has also passed a direct action policy that he plans will reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, but many environmentalists have pointed out several flaws in this policy.
The citizens affected by the fires are currently transitioning back to their normal surroundings and routines and are aware of the possible danger. Hopefully, they will stay safe.