National

Firies and victims demand climate action

By AAP Newswire

As bushfire survivor Janet Reynolds watched vast tracts of land in northern NSW and southern Queensland go up in flames weeks before the official fire season was due to start, she was heartbroken, but not surprised.

Ms Reynolds said the blazes are eerily similar to the mid-August 2018 fire that claimed the wildlife sanctuary and home she spent decades building in Numbugga near Bega on the NSW south coast.

The 74-year-old argues a criminal lack of action from the federal government means more and more people will have to deal with "blasted" homes and melted belongings.

She's not alone. Former NSW Fire Brigade deputy commissioner Ken Thompson says government inaction is "astonishing and embarrassing" given the coming fire season could be Australia's worst.

The pair wants Prime Minister Scott Morrison to meet with people like them to discuss climate action and better resources for firefighters battling the unprecedented blazes.

More than 100 fires are still burning across NSW and Queensland although firefighters have downgraded advice levels for serious blazes at Tenterfield, Armidale and Yamba in NSW and Peregian Springs, the Scenic Rim and the Gold Coast hinterland in Queensland.

Like many of those affected by the recent fires, Ms Reynolds was given minutes to leave her property in Numbugga on August 15 last year.

She panicked and grabbed only a pillow and a doona - "trivial" items, she says - before fleeing.

As she turned a bend in her driveway she was awestruck by the intense flames on either side of the road.

"I can actually remember I thought 'Oh, gosh, I hope my tires don't melt'," she told AAP on Thursday.

The only thing that survived the blaze was a tin dunny.

"It was like a nuclear blast. Everything was melted, the solar panels were just dribbles of aluminium."

She says the federal government is acting like a "dinosaur" when it comes to climate change and Australians are being put at risk as a result.

Mr Thompson thinks it's "astonishing" that politicians are ignoring climate science.

"The fire seasons are becoming more extreme - there is now a category within the fire danger rating called catastrophic. That wasn't there a few years ago," he told AAP on Thursday.

"I don't want to go out on a limb and say it's going to be the worst fire season ever, but all the indicators are there."

The former fire chief says the Australian government deals with climate change and bushfires like the United States government deals with mass shootings - by ignoring the problem and hoping people forget about it.

He took aim at Natural Disaster Minister David Littleproud whose own electorate suffered through last week's bushfires.

"It's incomprehensible that somebody can have an event like that on their own doorstep and still raise questions or have doubts about whether or not human-induced climate change is creating those kinds of conditions," he told AAP.

Mr Littleproud on Monday said the drought had "exacerbated" the fires but he refused to be drawn on whether human-induced climate change was also to blame.