For weeks, Australia has been battling raging wildfires, and the blazes show no signs of ending soon. According to NPR, at least 25 people have died in the fires, enormous numbers of wildlife and livestock have been killed, and millions of acres of land have been scorched. In New South Wales, which has been hit particularly hard, 69 of the 136 fires burning are completely uncontained, and experts say the blazes will continue to burn for months as the Australian summer continues.
The effects of the fires are being felt well beyond the burn areas. Massive plumes of smoke have been drifting across the country and out over the ocean, creating hazardous air quality. Smoke and haze have blanketed Sydney and even Melbourne, which is located more than 100 miles from the flames, NPR reports. This video shows a satellite view of the smoke plumes from Saturday:
Right now, 2,700 firefighters are working to contain the fires, CNN reports. In addition, the Australia Defence Force has called up 3,000 army reservists and specialists to help battle the flames, and firefighters from the U.S. have joined in the efforts as well.
But you don’t have to be a smokejumper to lend a hand. From firefighting to wildlife protection, there are many organizations across the country that are working hard to alleviate the crisis, and they’re in need of donations to keep going. Here’s how you can help make a difference:
To help with firefighting efforts, you can donate to one of several statewide organizations that provide support for local volunteer fire brigades. The NSW Rural Fire Service, the Country Fire Authority, the Country Fire Service Foundation, and the Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland are all accepting donations.
Support Relief and Recovery Efforts
Communities across Australia have been devastated by the fires and many people have been displaced. To help victims and assist with recovery efforts, consider donating to the Australian Red Cross, which has deployed over 1,500 volunteers and staff to assist fire victims. Other relief organizations include the VIC Bushfire Disaster Appeal, which is supporting fire-affected communities in Victoria. An indigenous Australian named Neil Morris started the Fire Relief Fund for First Nations Communities GoFundMe page, and the proceeds will be used to assist First Nations communities in New South Wales that have been affected by the fires. You can also donate to The Salvation Army, which has deployed teams to provide meals and support to first responders and evacuees.
Support Wildlife Organizations
Humans aren’t the only ones affected—the fires have been catastrophic for animals, too. Donations to RSPCA New South Wales will help the organization evacuate pets and livestock, as well as support efforts to rescue stranded animals in burned areas. Zoos Victoria has created a Brushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund 2020 where you can donate to support vet assistance for affected animals, and two GoFundMe pages—one for the Port Macquaire Koala Hospital and another for the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park—will help vets care for injured koalas and other threatened wildlife.
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