Sydney Will Host New Year’s Eve Fireworks Despite Bushfires ‘to Celebrate a New Year of Hope’
The New Year’s Eve firework display at Sydney Harbour will go ahead as planned, despite a total fire ban and calls for it to be canceled due to Australia’s bushfire crisis.
At least 11 other firework displays across New South Wales have been canceled or postponed in recent days, The BBC reported as a heatwave struck Australia on Monday with every single state seeing temperatures above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightning strikes and high winds are causing fires to spread faster than predicted towards the coast.
The Australian state has declared two state of emergencies in the past two months due to the fires.
The Lord mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, told the Sydney Morning Herald, that “Canceling would be of little practical advantage to those who have lost so much in the bush[fires]. We are going through really tough times now and it brings us together to celebrate a new year with hope.”
The New South Whales Rural Fire Service also confirmed on Twitter that the fireworks would go on.
A petition with more than 270,000 signatures called for organizers behind the Sydney display to cancel it and instead donate the money to farmers and firefighters. According to the petition, $5.8 million AUD (about $4 million) was spent on fireworks in Sydney last year.
The fires have killed 10 people since they broke out in September. One firefighter was killed on Monday when a truck was overturned due to high winds, according to The Guardian. In New South Wales, where Sydney is, there are at least 100 fires currently burning.
Earlier this month it was reported that smoke alarms in Sydney were being set off by smoke from fires 60 miles away.
An evacuation was ordered and then quickly rescinded in the state of Victoria. About 40,000 people were urged to leave East Gippsland, a popular resort area. Thousands stayed and were then told it was too late to leave as dangerous conditions burned across major roads.