As some of the worst wildfires in Australian history rage across four states, thousands of people in affected areas in New South Wales and Victoria continue to be evacuated to safety. Soaring temperatures, often higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and a protracted drought have contributed to an unprecedented national emergency which, by Christmas, had already seen more than 14.5 million acres of forest and rural land burned.
Marie Burton, a parishioner of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, in the New South Wales Diocese of Wagga, lives on a farm in Jingellic, near the border with Victoria border. In late December and early January, Jingellic was surrounded by fire twice. Burton has taken shelter with her sister’s family, the Darlows, including nephew Matthew Darlow, a member of the local brigade of the Rural Fire Service.
“We’re waiting on a change in wind that could affect things, and an increase in temperature, tonight or tomorrow,” said Darlow, who asked Catholics around the world to pray. “Offer up prayers for the people who’ve lost their lives and those who’ve lost their livelihoods so that they can rebuild as quickly as possible,” he said. “And pray particularly for widespread rain across the whole country.”
Picture: Sheep are seen as Rural Fire Service crews engage in property protection during wildfires along the Old Hume Highway near the town of Tahmoor, Australia, outside Sydney, on 19th December 2019. Wildfires have been burning since August and have destroyed an area comparable to the combined region of the Netherlands and Belgium. (CNS photo/Dean Lewins, AAP via Reuters).