Fires across Australia’s most populous state have been contained for the first time in nearly six months, authorities said on Friday, as heavy rains aid firefighters and boost some dam levels to their highest in nearly two years.
Australia has been battling hundreds of blazes since September in an unusually prolonged summer wildfire season that was fuelled by three years of drought, which experts have attributed to climate change.
Aided by storms that lashed Australia’s east coast earlier this week, the New South Wales (NSW) Rural Fire Service (RFS) said 24 blazes remain alight across the state, though all are now under control.
“After what’s been a truly devastating fire season for both firefighters and residents who suffered through so much this season, all fires are now contained in New South Wales. Which is great news,” Rob Rogers, NSW RFS deputy commissioner, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Almost 150 fires
The current situation is a far cry from the peak of the crisis in early January when NSW firefighters were battling almost 150 fires that produced a fire front about 6,000 kilometres (3,700 miles) long.
Blazes across the country have razed nearly 12 million hectares (29.7 million acres) of tinder-dry bushland, killing 33 people and an estimated one billion native animals, since September.