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Australian Defense Forces Assist in Unprecedented Bushfire Assistance Missions

Australia’s Defense Forces including the Australian Army and Australian Navy have been performing missions over the last month around Australia in an unprecendented response to assist residents and emergency services in response to the worst wildfires to ever strike Australia.

An MRH-90 delivers supplies to areas isolated by fires. Australian Defense Force image.

In harrowing scenes that you would expect to see more often in a Hollywood blockbuster movie than in the real world, the vision of Australian Army pilots navigating through a blood-red sky with zero visibility to provide assistance to those in need has been posted to defense force facebook pages.

Videos like the one below illustrating the severity of the fires to those from other countries that can’t comprehend the scale of such a disaster that has thus far destroyed thousands of buildings, killed dozens of citizens and millions of native animals and livestock as hundreds of fires still burn across the country.

In a move by the federal government to increase federal assistance, the Australian Defense Forces have for the first time in history activated reserve units to respond to the hardest-hit areas as thousands who have lost homes or whose towns are still off-limits, preventing them from returning stay in makeshift crisis accommodation in many locations.

A crew member looks down on the fire-ravaged bush in Australia during a flight. Australian Navy Photo.

In scenes reminiscent of the largest airlift in Australian history as the city of Darwin was evacuated after Cyclone Tracy decimated the top end city in the 1970s, The Australian Navy ship HMS Choules steamed into waters off Mallacoota in Victoria’s east coast this week to evacuate several thousand residents who had spent days on the beach as the only safe location as large portions of the town burned. Those leaving were evacuated to Hastings, Victoria, where crisis teams and accommodation were waiting.

An Australian Navy ship moors off the coast of Eden, New South Wales as fires can be seen in the distance.

Meanwhile, in other locations, the Australian Army dispatched a fleet of multiple helicopter assets that included the NH-90, Chinook, and Blackhawk to evacuate residents in both Victoria and New South Wales as fires encroached on many locations, including Eden, a small town on the coast of New South Wales south of Sydney that quickly became cut off by fires.

Evacuating residents board an Australian Navy MRH-90 in Mallacoota, Victoria, one of the hardest-hit areas that was completely cut off as fires ravaged the holiday destination. Australian Navy Image.

As milder temperatures give firefighters a small reprieve from the firestorms of last week, the break, however, will be short. Temperatures again forecasted to be in excess of 100 degrees again by Saturday.

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