A haunted Australia stares down bushfire disaster again
He begged to be heard over and over again. Letters, phone calls, press conferences, and countless interviews painted an apocalyptic picture of the summer to come.
Despite his pleas, his predictions came true.
In the months that followed, Mr Mullins witnessed 24 million hectares being burned – an area the size of the UK. As a result of the flames and smoke, almost 2,500 homes were destroyed and 480 people were killed.
A worrying combination of conditions has once again prompted Mr Mullins to raise the alarm.
This summer will not be on the same scale as last summer, according to authorities. As Australia’s warmest winter on record comes to an end, plant growth has exploded, and an El Nino-affected summer promises more oppressively hot and dry weather.
Parts of the country are experiencing catastrophic-level weather warnings just days into spring. It’s easy to see why in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales (NSW).
While walking through the thick scrub of Nattai National Park, the occasional blackened tree trunk peeks out from behind a wall of leaves. You can only see the threadbare canopy by craning your neck. Four years ago, the area was incinerated.
Local firefighter Andrew Hain says he wouldn’t have believed that it burned so hard without seeing it for himself.
He adds that it looked like the surface of the Moon with sticks sticking out of it in 2019.
“You think nothing will grow in there again… [but] I can now go in there 30 metres and you won’t see me.”