In Brief... Brushfires Ravage Southeastern Australia
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"There are many broken-hearted people here," wrote an Australian citizen to a member of our World News and Prophecy staff about the nightmarish brush fires ravishing the New South Wales state in Australia. As we go to press, the fires are well into their third week and constitute the greatest disaster of this type that Australia has seen, according to New South Wales Emergency Services Minister Bob Debus.
The destruction is devastating enough in itself, but adding to the grief is the fact that many of the fires have been started by arsonists. As of Jan. 6, 2002, 26 people have been arrested and charged with arson. The public anger is justifiably great, and there is talk of creating a public register of arsonists similar to that for pedophiles. Additionally, a new law requires convicted arsonists to be confronted by the victims of the fires they set and to help regenerate burned out land.
More than half of the beautiful Royal National Park has been destroyed in the fires, killing countless animals and injuring hundreds that survived. On the positive side, several types of plant life have already begun to put forth new shoots in the park. Included are the phenomenal banksias, an evergreen shrub or plant whose seeds actually open only in the intense heat of such a fire. The encouraging early growth in the park shows the marvelous capacity for survival that God designed, even in the face of disaster.
Approximately 10,000 volunteer firefighters have battled nearly 100 separate fires and are near exhaustion. Many of them were on year-end vacation time when the crisis struck, but the fires may burn for weeks to come. Authorities are appealing to employers of the volunteers to be patient.
The 100 fires constituted a front of 1,250 miles around the city of Sydney. Early damage estimates run into the tens of millions of dollars, but that does not include insurance claims. When all of the costs are tallied, claims from the brush fires are expected to add several billion dollars to an already massive $100 billion insurance crisis that threatens to rock the Australian economy.
Perhaps the greatest grief is caused by the fact that a large number of the people arrested for arson are youths, ranging in age from 9 to 16! Further, these arsonists have continued to set new fires while firefighters combated those that were already burning.
"Why would people want to do this to other people?" cried the young daughter of one of the volunteer firefighters when she saw a televised news report about the destruction. That's a question to which many people would like an answer. Are these young arsonists so detached from a sense of right and wrong that they do not realize the horrible crime they have committed? Are they so inured to the pain of others that they do not care what hurt they have caused?
It's chilling to contemplate what has gone wrong in the homes and the society from which these young people have come. God long ago prophesied that "in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves [selfish]...boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty" (2 Timothy 3:1-4 2 Timothy 3:1-4  This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
 Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
 Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
American King James Version×). These gruesome qualities describe the kind of character that would inflict such wanton evil.
Sources: News.com.au, The Sunday Herald Sun, BBC, The Sunday Telegraph, The Australian, Reuters.