Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Australia is engulfed in flames.

Australia is engulfed in flames. (Image: MyFireWatch/screenshot)

'Everything is Burning': Australian Inferno Continues, Choking Off Access to Cities Across Country

"These fires are likely to continue to spread well past Christmas."

Eoin Higgins

Australia is on fire. 

The country on Saturday saw delayed flights on the second day of a national state of emergency due to raging brushfires near every major city and choked out smoke conditions. 

Australian reporter Saffron Howden used a map from the Government of Western Australia to show how the blazes have ringed the entire continent.

"My god," Howden tweeted.

The fires in Australia's southeastern state of New South Wales (NSW) were at the "catastrophic" level on Saturday, according to the BBC

"These fires are likely to continue to spread well past Christmas," said NSW Rural Fire Services Inspector Ben Shepherd.

Photos shared on social media showed hazy skies around the country. 

"Everything is burning," said one Twitter user. 

As Common Dreams reported Thursday, Australia just endured a heat wave that broke records for temperature in consecutive days. 

"I think this is the single loudest alarm bell I've ever heard on global heating," said Kees van der Leun, a director at the American consultancy firm Navigant.

Temperatures dropped on the back of a cooling wind on Saturday, but, as The Guardian reported, the wind brings with it other problems:

A southerly change swept through at 5pm, making the fire even more erratic and changing the fire direction. Around this time, NSW authorities began warning of a bushfire-generated thunderstorm that had formed over Currowan and Tianjara fires in the Shoalhaven area, on the NSW south coast.

The fire service said this would lead to increasingly dangerous fire conditions. Such storms, known as pyroCB, can produce embers hot enough to spark new fires 30km from the main fire.

While his country was on fire, right-wing climate-denying Prime Minister Scott Morrison was on vacation in Hawaii. Morrison returned to Australia on Saturday after two firefighters died fighting one of three huge blazes near Sydney. Morrison's absence during the crisis pprovoked outcry from constituents. 

One Twitter user posted a picture showing from above the blazes around Sydney as Morrison was arriving in the city, reportedly after circling for an hour due to runway closures. 

A map of the city showed only two routes out of Sydney due to the fires. 

"Today has been an awful day," NSW Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmon told reporters. 

Fitzsimmon added that the fires were largely out of any meaningful control barring nature taking a hand. 

"We will not get on top of these fires until we get some decent rain—we have said that for weeks and months," said Fitzsimmon.

According to Reuters, the Australian Bureau of Meterology has reported there will be no significant rainfall in the country for at least the next two months.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

'I Think He Should Resign': Biden Joins Chorus of Demands for Cuomo to Step Down

Calls for the New York Democratic governor's ouster are growing after an investigation found that he sexually harassed multiple women in violation of state and federal law.

Jessica Corbett ·


Cori Bush, Progressive Lawmakers and Activists Hailed for New CDC Eviction Moratorium

"I think the message here today is clear," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. "It's that everyday people can make a change. We can always demand better."

Brett Wilkins ·


As Biden Touts 110+ Million Vaccine Donations to the World, US Urged to Go Much Further

"The president has said that the U.S. will serve as a vaccine arsenal for the world," said one campaigner. "Ten thousand people die each day waiting for ambitious action to match this vision."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Give the Money Back,' Demands Tlaib After Revelation of $1 Million Donation to House Dems From Real Estate Titan

The seven-figure contribution to the House Majority PAC came weeks before Congress let the federal eviction moratorium expire.

Brett Wilkins ·


NYC to Become First US City to Mandate Proof of Vaccination for Certain Indoor Activities

New Yorkers will need to show proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, gyms, and theaters starting next month.

Julia Conley ·