Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Australian fires, Feb. 11 update

The official death toll still stands at 181 in the Australian fire disaster.

Koala rescued in one of the fires. From the AP:
Local CFA firefighter David Tree shares his water with an injured Australian Koala at Mirboo North after wildfires swept through the region on Monday, Feb. 9, 2009.

The koala moved gingerly on scorched paws, crossing the blackened landscape as the fire patrol passed.Clearly in pain, the animal stopped when it saw firefighter David Tree following behind.

"It was amazing, he turned around, sat on his bum and sort of looked at me with (a look) like, put me out of my misery," Tree told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "I yelled out for a bottle of water. I unscrewed the bottle, tipped it up on his lips and he just took it naturally. He kept reaching for the bottle, almost like a baby."

The team called animal welfare officers as it resumed its patrols on Sunday, the day after deadly firestorms swept southern Victoria state.

"I love nature, and I've handled koalas before. They're not the friendliest things, but I wanted to help him," Tree said.

Tree says he's spoken to wildlife officials, and the koala, nicknamed Sam, is doing fine. And he, it turns out, is a she.
UPDATE, Feb. 12: Our Feb. 12 post has an update on the koala (now named "Sam") including a video of the rescue.

One of the numerous spot fires out ahead of the main fire.

February 9, 2009--NASA's Aqua satellite captures southern Australia's deadly wildfires from space. The smoking region at center--just one of many Australian wildfires recorded in recent days--is roughly 75 miles wide.

More information about the fires:
The Australian

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