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.
New South Wales is suffering immensely at the moment.
via: Getty ImagesThere 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.
via: Getty ImagesWhat 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...
24 people have been confirmed to have died in the fires since they started...
via: Getty ImagesIncluding several volunteer firefighters.
And it's not just the flames themselves that are having deadly consequences...
via: Getty ImagesLast 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...
via: Getty ImagesAnd 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...
via: Getty ImagesIncluding the US and New Zealand, who have sent in more firefighters to try and help tackles the blazes.
But even with assistance from overseas...
welcome to 2020. Australia is literally burning. 4,000 people have fled to Mallacoota beach as a bushfire bears dow… https://t.co/2H0VUuWWAp— Tom Warren (@Tom Warren)1577768890.0
People have been desperately fleeing to beaches for cover.
Australian Bushfires The surreal scene at Currarong in Jervis Bay with huge plumes from the northern flank of the… https://t.co/aB0ZUf6TYU— Liliane Breuning (@Liliane Breuning)1577965325.0
How long could the fires actually be burning for?
via: Getty ImagesSadly, 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.
via: Getty ImagesSeveral 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.
Koalas have been amongst the hardest hit.
But what's even more concerning...
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.
Now let’s talk about the animals lost in this #Bushfire crisis. Rare and beautiful species, unique to Australia, e… https://t.co/FuXC7nS9k4— Dr. Meraiah Foley (@Dr. Meraiah Foley)1577914002.0
A staggering number of animals have perished in the fires.
via: Getty ImagesAnd 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...
A baby koala with bandaged feet... another of the precious patients at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, rescued… https://t.co/3RBr8SBDg8— Lizzie Pearl (@Lizzie Pearl)1574206495.0