Fires on a catastrophic scale – the ADF and international partners help fight bushfires

A catastrophic summer

There were many predictions that this summer’s Australian bushfire season was going to be a shocker – but no one was able to predict the scale of the disaster that reached a four week crescendo from mid-December until mid-January. South-East Australia experienced the warmest and driest winter on record, part of a long-term pattern that means that on average this enormous chunk of the continent receives 20% less rain annually than it did in the 1970s. This trend looks certain to continue.

The disaster management agencies were all nervous – and the ADF as far back as early September commenced providing assistance to State authorities, on request. Asked how the ADF started preparing, the head of Operation Disaster Relief, MAJGEN Jake Ellwood explained: “Defence looks at evolving threats as part of its normal contingency planning. No one could have foreseen the scale of what we have experienced over the past few weeks, but we always have some forces online ready to support state authorities during disasters. That ensures we are always postured to respond when needed, as we have done in this instance.”

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