A volunteer firefighter and a koala stand together and watch as their home burns

By now, most of us have heard of the devastating bushfires spreading across Australia.

This photo of a firefighter standing with a koala sum up the emotions Australians are feeling right now. What can be done? How can we stop this?

If you don’t know yet how it started, the bushfires began in September 2019. This wasn’t uncommon. Bushfires happen every year in Australia and is a necessity for land management.

Facebook/Australia's Volunteer Firefighters Source: Facebook/Australia's Volunteer Firefighters

“Natural ecosystems have evolved with fire, and the landscape, along with its biological diversity, has been shaped by both historic and recent fires. Many of Australia’s native plants are fire prone and very combustible while numerous species depend on fire to regenerate. Indigenous Australians have long used fire as a land management tool and it continues to be used to clear land for agricultural purposes and to protect properties from intense, uncontrolled fires,” as reported by Geoscience Australia.

But on November 12, 2019, the government declared catastrophic fire danger in the Greater Sydney region. It was the “the most dangerous bushfire week this nation has ever seen,” according to the NSW Premier.

This is also the worst bushfire ever reported in Australian history.

YouTube Screenshot Source: YouTube Screenshot

As of January 7, 2020, the bushfire is still raging and shows no signs of stopping.

At least 24 people and almost half a million mammals, birds, and reptiles have died in the bushfires that have destroyed around 16 million acres of land.

Thousands of koalas have already perished in the fires. And they suspect there are even more unreported deaths.

YouTube Screenshot Source: YouTube Screenshot

This photo of this firefighter standing with a koala, while they watch the fires burn helplessly, has gone viral.

This firefighter is just one of the volunteer firefighters from Eden Hills Country Fire Service, one of five brigades in the Sturt CFS group.

All around the country, so many Australians have taken time off work to volunteer as a firefighter to eradicate the bushfire problem. They have been working non-stop 12-hour (or more) shifts daily to fight the fires.

They said what keeps them going is “through a combination of adrenaline and a sense of duty to their neighbors.”

Facebook/ Eden Hills Country Service Source: Facebook/ Eden Hills Country Service

There is a nationwide call to make sure they are compensated for their dedication and commitment.

Unfortunately, the Australian government has not made it a priority as of the moment, which has received lots of backlash from Australian citizens.

“[It’s] “bewildering” that the government expected volunteer firefighters to work for months on end without compensation… The firefighters are risking their lives in the face of blazes that are growing larger and more intense as the country gets hotter and drier,” members of the Fire Brigade Employees Union, which represents firefighters in Australia, said.

Facebook/Eden Hills Country Fire Service Source: Facebook/Eden Hills Country Fire Service

Although, this hasn’t stopped the volunteer firefighters from doing what they can to help. And some of them go home early in the morning, way past their shift.

“If a house is being impacted, you’re not going to walk away from it,” Brad Kelly, deputy captain of the Ingleside Fire Brigade, north of Sydney, said.

Facebook/Eden Hills Country Fire Service Source: Facebook/Eden Hills Country Fire Service

For their part, the neighbors and community of the volunteer firefighters have stepped out to help out their families in their absence.

And when two volunteer firefighters died in an accident while on duty, a member of their community organized an online fundraising initiative for the benefit of the young children they left behind.

As of Jan. 7, 2020, they have raised more than AUD$400,000 for the firefighters’ families.

But the fundraising isn’t over yet and they are looking to raise at least AUD$500K.

And in Balmoral, a village southwest of Sydney, donations to their rural fire service continued to fill the station. This drove some firefighters to tears.

YouTube Screenshot Source: YouTube Screenshot

Watch the video below to find out how dire the current situation in Australia right now.

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Source: Veuer