A HEARTBREAKING image of a burnt koala bear shielding her tiny baby from harm has emerged after devastating wildfires ripped through Australia.
The moving picture shows the mother marsupial – with scorch marks to her back – sitting on a fallen tree in blaze-hit Canungra, on the Gold Coast.
The koala was spotted shielding its baby from smoke on a fallen tree in blaze-hit Canungra[/caption]
The emergency crews that came across the injured pair say they were found among scenes of total devastation.
“Everything was burnt to the ground around them,” Senior-Sergeant Peter Waugh told The Beaudesert Times.
“When we found her it looked like she was lying on top of her young – as if she was cradling it.”
The koala and her baby were taken to the RSPCA Queensland wildlife hospital where they are receiving treatment for their injuries.
Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes in eastern Australia while firefighters battle more than 140 wildfires across two states.
Officials say the intense blazes mark the worst start to the fire season on record for the state of Queensland.
They warn the hot and windy conditions fuelling the flames are unprecedented and are the result of record winter warmth and little rainfall.
Both animals are now being cared for by vets from the Australian RSPCA[/caption]
Officials have blamed the blazes on the hot and windy conditions[/caption]
On Tuesday, 58 fires were also burning across about 100,000 hectares in neighbouring New South Wales.
At least eight of the fires are suspicious, Police Commissioner Katrina Carroll told reporters revealing cops had questioned three children over blazes.
“Some of the fires have involved children playing and obviously the consequences are dire as a result of that and … some of them have been purposeful and malicious,” she said.
In Queensland alone, low humidity levels, high winds and dry vegetation have fuelled 85 fires that have destroyed or damaged 84 houses across the state.
There were more than 400 people in evacuation centres, acting Queensland premier Jackie Trad told reporters.
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“Apart from Sunshine Coast, we are still seeing fires right throughout the state,” she said.
In New South Wales, firefighters were battling about 55 fires and five properties had been confirmed destroyed, the NSW Rural Fire Service said on Monday.
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said winds would intensify throughout the day on Tuesday making things worse, but blaze threats should abate on Wednesday.
Firefighters are battling more than 140 blazes across two states[/caption]
Officials say the intense blazes mark the worst start to the fire season on record[/caption]
At least eight of the shocking wildfires are suspicious, say officials[/caption]
More than 300 firefighters battled through the night to contain the blazes[/caption]