Australia’s bushfire crisis in pictures
As bushfires continue to rage across swathes of Australia, harrowing scenes of apocalyptic red skies have become embedded in the national consciousness.
But for all of the devastation there has also been a resounding resilience, from fire-affected communities through to first responders and those they leave behind.
While the battle is far from over, with authorities warning conditions could worsen into the weekend, these are some of the photos that have captured the heart of the crisis to date.
Fallen firefighter farewelled in moving tribute
It was the heart-wrenching moment a young boy, still sucking his pacifier, was forced to farewell his father for the last time.
The son of Geoffrey Keaton, a volunteer firefighter who was tragically killed last month, received a posthumous medal for bravery honouring his dad.
Mr Keaton and his colleague, Andrew O’Dwyer, died when their fire tanker rolled after being hit by a tree in Sydney’s south-west less than a week before Christmas.
Dressed in a miniature Rural Fire Service uniform, little Harvey was awarded a posthumous Commendation for Bravery and Service by RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons at Mr Keaton’s funeral on Thursday.
Child steers family to safety
The striking image of a young boy steering his family to safety through blood-red skies garnered headlines across the country — and for good reason.
Allison Marion took the photo of her son, 11-year-old Finn, as they fled the fiery shores of Mallacoota on Tuesday.
Ms Marion said she was taking the photo “to record our story for our family”.
But the image has since been shared across news sites and newspapers as a dramatic visual of the impact the fires are having on Australian towns.
Community spirit is alive and well
As emergency services race to save properties across Victoria and New South Wales, and authorities warn conditions could worsen into the weekend, those in fire-affected communities have been quick to show their gratitude.
Mallacoota resident Erin Lehman managed to keep her kids busy by drawing a thank you sign for the Country Fire Authority (CFA), while those in Tahmoor, in New South Wales, left a “little message to all the bombers in the sky”.
“The conditions those pilots are flying in all day and the RFS on the ground you are all legends,” wrote Beau Bromley, who took the photo of a thank you message scrawled across a rooftop.
“And once this is all over [you] deserve more than one beer.”
The story hits closer to home
ABC photographer Matt Roberts is used to being behind the camera, but he couldn’t have anticipated his family would soon be a part of the story.
While covering the aftermath of the fires in Quaama on New Year’s Day, Roberts discovered the burnt remnants of his sister’s home.
“My kids loved visiting. I found her late today,” he tweeted, alongside before and after shots of the property.
“Her young family is safe but unsure what to do next.”
Emergency services don’t stop for the holidays
While the vast majority of Australia may have come to a standstill to enjoy the Christmas festivities, fires unfortunately don’t play by the same rules.
Thousands of firefighters and emergency services gave up their holidays to help contain blazes burning across the country.
They appear to have taken the predicament in their stride, however, with one crew from NSW opting for a chainsaw instead of a knife to cut a gingerbread house.
Australia’s wildlife fights to survive
Australia’s fauna may be renowned around the globe, but it’s made headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent weeks.
The striking image of a kangaroo fleeing from a burning house was front page news in the United Kingdom, while a kookaburra perching on the burnt remains of a tree attracted viral attention last month.
“My last day of the decade felt like the apocalypse,” photographer Matthew Abbott, who captured the kangaroo’s escape, tweeted on Wednesday.
“Been covering the Australian bushfires for the last 6 weeks, but haven’t seen anything like yesterday’s fire that decimated the town of Conjola, NSW.”