Hero Saves Nine Koalas After Going on Dangerous Mission Into Fire-Ravaged Area | 22 Words

Australia is in the midst of one of the worst bushfire crises the world has seen. Since September, entire communities have been engulfed by relentless heat and fires. The flames are showing no signs of slowing down - which means only one thing... death tolls are rising.

This week some heartbreaking statistics have surfaced, and it's truly gut-wrenching.

Keep scrolling to read the story of a hero who saved 9 koalas from a savage blaze.

Australia is being ravished by one of the worst bush fire crises the world has seen in decades.

Due to soaring temperatures and one of the worst droughts in years, the relentless fires have been burning since September. We're currently in January. Just let that sink in.

New South Wales is suffering immensely at the moment.

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There have been fires reported in every state, but New South Wales is truly taking a beating by bush fires and is undoubtedly the hardest hit. According to CNN, so far, in New South Wales alone, more than 1,300 houses have been destroyed.

NSW declared a state of emergency last month.

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What does this mean? Well, it grants "extraordinary powers" to the NSWRFS commissioner, including the authority to allocate government resources and direct government agencies in taking action, according to CNN.

The raging fires have had a devastating impact...

The BBC reported that close to fifty bush fires continue to burn in populated coastal and inland regions to the city's north.

24 people have been confirmed to have died in the fires since they started...

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Including several volunteer firefighters.

And it's not just the flames themselves that are having deadly consequences...

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Last month, the smoke was so bad in Sydney that air quality measured 11 times the "hazardous" level, CNN reports.

The Australian fire services have been stretched to their limits.

Firefighters all over the country have been tirelessly battling the formidable blazes and are struggling to contain them. Keep scrolling to see the heartbreaking pictures of the aftermath.

Australia has even been forced to make a global call for help...

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And it was Canada that was the first to respond and take action. The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, based in Winnipeg, answered the call for help after realizing the bush fire situation is expected to continue for many more weeks and gave up their Christmas to help fight the raging fires.

Other countries offered their assistance...

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Including the US and New Zealand, who have sent in more firefighters to try and help tackles the blazes.

But even with assistance from overseas...

There seems to be no end to the blazes. In total, more than 5.9 million hectares (14.6 million acres) have been burned, CNN reports. And those who escaped the flames have lost their homes, with all their possessions perishing to the flames.

People have been desperately fleeing to beaches for cover.

And are left stranded awaiting evacuation. It's a truly heartbreaking sight.

How long could the fires actually be burning for?

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Sadly, Australia has only just entered summer, meaning temperatures could remain high for some weeks. In fact, temperatures usually reach their highest during January and February, so there may be no end in sight for months.

The fires have also had a devasting impact on wildlife.

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Several of Australia's native species have been affected including kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, possums, wombats, and echidnas. Keep scrolling to see the latest snaps showing the true devastation on wildlife.

And the latest statistics are some of the most alarming yet.

The country is totally unprepared for the devastation caused to its wildlife. Science for Wildlife executive director Dr Kellie Leigh told the New South Wales upper house inquiry: "We're getting a lot of lessons out of this and it's just showing how unprepared we are.
"There's no procedures or protocols in place - even wildlife carers don't have protocols for when they can go in after fire."

Koalas have been amongst the hardest hit.

It's believed that at least a third of koalas in New South Wales alone have perished in the flames.

But what's even more concerning...

Tracy Burgess, a volunteer at Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Services (WIRES), explained how concerning it was that rescuers were not receiving as many animal patients as they expected.
"We're not getting that many animals coming into care. So, our concern is that they don't come into care because they're not there anymore, basically," she told Reuters.

And that's not all...

It's feared that animals that managed to survive the flames will need huge amounts of humanitarian assistance to get populations anywhere near back to what they used to be.

Residents have even been trying to rescue helpless animals themselves.

And of course, we all remember Lewis, the koala who was heroically rescued by a woman using the clothes off her back. Read more about his story and his tragic fate at the end.

A staggering number of animals have perished in the fires.

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And its only set to get worse. But the number that surfaced this week is utterly heartbreaking.

Nearly half a billion animals have died.

Ecologists from the University of Sydney have said that it's thought around 480 million mammals, birds, and reptiles have died since September.

Another dedicated citizen is Patrick, who has become an unlikely hero after rescuing koalas from Australian bushfires.

The young hunter, Patrick Boyle, took a brave - if entirely reckless - decision to rescue the marsupials in need, entering the dangerous area of Victoria and risking his own safety in order to carry out the heroic act.

Patrick Boyle claims he successfully rescued 9 koalas from almost certain death.

The mission began when his friend found a koala cowering under the pump of a water treatment plant, spurring the twenty-two-year-old into action. Boyle said it didn't take him long to find the first koala in need, but he kept on discovering more and more as he went, which led to him saving 8 or 9 of them.

However, he also found a lot of animals that didn't make it.

He told Stuff.co.nz: "I've found eight or nine so far that have been rescued. I found over ten that were dead and about another five that are alive and healthy for the time being." The koalas that he saved, he took to the Mallacoota Wildlife Shelter, which is actually just someone's house where they are being looked after.

"Farmers, hunters and workers are the ones out there actually taking action right now."

It's because of his hunting hobby that he has become an unlikely hero in his native land. He continued: "I'm a hunter - I'm one of the last people that others would expect to be helping these animals."

And his heroic act carries a message for others...

Patrick wants anyone who is moved by the plight of the creatures, and his efforts to save them, to donate what they can to the Mallacoota Wildlife Shelter. This shelter helps all the wildlife that are affected by the fires recover. Thank you for all your efforts, Patrick!