Inferno Ahead: Disquieting Scenes from the Blue Mountains Bushfires

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Fires burn behind house
Image: Mark Hodges
Ashes left over from the fire still sparkle on the mountain.

There are few experiences as terrifying as being caught in a bushfire. The sound of roaring flames and trees exploding, the choking, disorientating smoke that burns the lungs and eyes, and the searing temperatures that can mean death for humans and animals alike.

The Australian bush has a close relationship with fire. In fact, some of the indigenous plants depend on regular burning to survive. However, as shown in October 2013, bushfires can have a devastating effect on the wildlife and people who live in forested areas like the Blue Mountains in New South Wales.

Smoke billows over mountains
Image: Gary Hayes
Smoke from the fire at Lithgow engulfs the Blue Mountains region.

The Blue Mountains are situated to the west of Sydney. It’s a region with many eucalyptus trees, and there are rainforests in the lower gorges and valleys. The Greater Blue Mountains Area is situated in the Blue Mountains range and comprises seven national parks. In 2000 it was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status because of its wide selection of habitats and rare species. Part of it, the Wollemi National Park, is also home to the ancient Wollemi pine, a relic from the dinosaur age.

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Burning embers on mountain
Image: Mark Hodges
A fire burns red behind a small farm at Mt. York in the Blue Mountains.

The natural beauty of the Blue Mountains and their close proximity to Sydney makes them an appealing place in which to live. One local government area in the region is known as the City of Blue Mountains, and there are over twenty towns and villages located there. Tourists flock to the mountains to experience the national parks and scenery. Unfortunately, however, all the vegetation present also brings with it a regular threat: bushfires.

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