Lake Conjola, New South Wales, Australia -- We met Paula while chasing hot spots, looking for where the Australia wildfires might pop up again. The smoke hung thick over the edge of her property, as she tells us what her life has been like the last few weeks.
“The blackness, the darkness, it’s like the apocalypse,” she said. “It’s pitch dark at 4 o'clock in the afternoon ... I’ve never seen anything like it before.” She says she’s staying behind to protect her house.
Now she says she “can’t do anything but pray.”
We see flames in the woods at the edge of a home. The man who lives inside comes out to tell us that he’s been out here every day for two weeks holding them back, only getting a couple of hours of sleep a night.
There are firefighters everywhere. It seems like they are on every road, at the fast-food restaurant for lunch and staying at our hotel. Teams from all over the country and the world are working around the clock to battle the blazes.
Conservationists are desperate to hold on to what little environment is left. One took us to an area that burned recently. She shows us how right after the fire ripped through, she and a few others were out here in full fire gear and 100-degree heat while the ground was still smoldering looking for any animals. They took in dozens of koalas, many, now being nursed back to health.
These are the scenes we’re seeing in Australia. Over the last 72 hours, we’ve driven for nearly 40 of them. Back roads and main highways, it’s all the same, mile after mile of burned-out forest and homes. Some communities are still open and unaffected, but everyone fears what’s next.
As Paula put it, “tomorrow is D-Day.” Fire season isn’t even close to being over. And while there are so many emotions being felt here, one everyone feels is simply exhaustion.