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Australia's Firefighters Declare All Fires In New South Wales 'Contained'

To say that the 2019-20 fire season has been challenging for Australia would be an understatement. It's been terrifying, a fire season like we've never seen before, with acre upon acre consumed, more than a billion animals killed, possibly some species lost forever, thousands of buildings destroyed, and at least 33 lives claimed.

But, finally, firefighters in Australia have a massive accomplishment to celebrate.

The long nightmare for Australia's most populous state appears to have finally come to an end as the state's firefighters have declared all fires there contained.

"After what's been a truly devastating fire season for both firefighters and residents, who've suffered so much this season, all fires are now contained in New South Wales," Rural Fire Service Assistant Commissioner Rob Rogers said.

"Contained" doesn't mean that there aren't still fires burning, but firefighters have been able to establish a perimeter around them so that they won't be able to spread.

Containment of the fires has been helped along considerably by significant rainfall.

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In fact, the area received so much rainfall that it caused serious problems, including flooding, mudslides, and power outages.

Some areas had to be evacuated, and emergency crews were kept busy with calls regarding the rain instead of the fires. Dams that only a month ago were well below capacity have had to open their floodgates to relieve pressure.

The volunteer firefighters who make up the NSW Rural Fire Service have been battling the massive blazes since October.

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In New South Wales alone, more than 11,000 bush and grass fires broke out, and 5.4 million hectares have burned, an area almost twice the size of Massachusetts.

For a period in December, Sydney's air quality measured 11 times the "hazardous" level due to the amount of smoke.

So Australia's fire brigades have plenty to celebrate.

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Although other areas in the country still face fire danger, in New South Wales many can refocus on cleaning up and rebuilding.

In an encouraging sign, nature has shown that it's ready to get on with recovery, as green shoots have been poking through the black scorched earth left behind by the fires.

h/t: BBC, CNN, NPR