Which suburbs of Sydney are dangerous

November 11, 2019 could have gone down in Australian history as the first day since weather records began, on which not a single drop of rain fell on the mainland, with the exception of Tasmania. That was what the national meteorological agency had predicted - a most unusual scenario for a continent of this size.

In Ferny Creek near Melbourne, contrary to the forecast, five millimeters of rain fell from the sky. So the unprecedented event did not occur. But that's irrelevant these days in Australia. In the east of the country, in the states of New South Wales and Queensland, bush fires are raging, so devastating and dangerous that Shane Fitzsimmons, the fire chief of the state of New South Wales, speaks of a "catastrophic situation" "beyond what we are knew so far ".

The authorities have counted up to 300 sources of fire, and quite a few fires are out of control. Temperatures of almost 40 degrees and extreme drought make the situation worse, and strong winds keep fueling the fires. The flames have now covered 10,000 square kilometers, an area half the size of Hesse. More than 150 houses were destroyed, thousands of residents had to flee their homes, and at least three people were killed. New South Wales authorities declared a state of emergency and kept hundreds of schools closed on Tuesday. The Australian military is preparing for the biggest peacetime operation.

The bush fires also threaten Sydney, a city of five million people. There the flames eat their way through a eucalyptus forest, about 15 kilometers from the center. On pictures from the suburbs you can see houses, streets, trees and cars that are covered with a pink mass. It is a chemical that the fire department sprayed to prevent the fire from spreading. Fire chief Fitzsimmons called on residents to get to safety in good time. It is extremely dangerous to stay in the house against the advice of the authorities. "We cannot guarantee that a fire truck will come to every burning house, nor can we guarantee that someone will knock on your door to warn you."

The actual forest fire season is only just beginning

Bushfires are a common phenomenon in Australia, but this time around it is so serious that Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison is coming under pressure. The country is suffering from an unprecedented drought; there are places where it has not rained in almost three years. Hardly anywhere are the consequences of the climate crisis so clearly felt. Just a few weeks ago, a UN report was published that showed with new data how much the Great Barrier Reef, a unique ecosystem off the east coast of the country, has now been destroyed. But the government is unimpressed. It promotes coal mines and has only imposed minimal climate targets.

In 2017, Morrison, then finance minister, provocatively put a coal briquette on the lectern in parliament and said that there was "nothing to fear" from such a valuable raw material. Now his deputy, Michael McCormack, says that the people who were driven away by the fire need "no enthusiasm from any enlightened green-moved, who only represent the pure doctrine".

A thrown sentence from a politician who believes he can stifle the emerging debate like a blazing fire that is easy to bring under control. But it is spring in Australia. The actual forest fire season, it has not even started.