Fire Service stands with Australian counterparts

Firefighters manage a controlled burn to help contain a larger fire near Falls Creek, Australia, on Sunday. The deadly wildfires, which have been raging since September, have already burned about 12.35 million acres of land and destroyed more than 1,500 homes. - Photo: AP

The Cayman Islands Fire Service has sent a message of solidarity and support for Australian firefighters battling widespread wildfires.

“CIFS are keen to send a strong message of support and best wishes to our Australian colleagues, their families and friends and those affected by these serious fires,” said a brief statement from the Fire Service released on Tuesday.

The Fire Service said it recognises the challenges faced by its Australian colleagues and commended those working in extremely difficult conditions battling more than 130 wildfires.

“Exacerbated by 40C temperatures and strong winds, thousands of fire fighters are working above and beyond the call of duty to protect their communities across Australia. The sheer scale of devastation and loss of life is hard to comprehend,” the statement said.

Firefighters have been battling infernos across Australia for weeks.

The fires have caused at least 25 deaths, including firefighters, and has scorched 13 million acres of land. Almost 2,000 homes have been destroyed in the fires, and millions of animals have died since the September blazes began.

On Saturday, Royal Palms Beach Club will be holding a fundraising raffle with all proceeds being sent to Australia to help firefighters and volunteer organisations battling the fires to save affected residents and animals. The club announced that it will also be donating 100 percent of its bar sales made at the event.

Global experts have blamed climate change for fuelling the fires which have reached crisis levels, according to Australian officials.

On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that the United Nations World Meteorological Organization indicated that more bushfires may be in store for Australia as its summer season progresses and climate change plays its role.

Clare Nullis, spokesperson for the World Meteorological Organization, at a media briefing Tuesday in Geneva, said the fires have led to hazardous air quality, which is a threat to human health in major cities in Australia, with the smoke spreading to New Zealand, and drifting thousands of miles across the Pacific to South America.

Nullis said that meteorological services in both Chile and Argentina have reported that smoke from the Australian fires had reached those countries. The sunset in Buenos Aires reportedly turned red, and the skies in central Chile were grey because of the smoke.”

On Monday, the US dispatched a crew of 20 veteran California-based firefighters to Australia to assist in the battle to control and contain the fires.

Reports out of Australia Tuesday said that New South Wales police arrested 24 people for deliberately setting fires.

Australian fire facts
25 deaths
13 million acres of land scorched
2,000 homes destroyed
500 million animals killed