Australian Billionnaire To Donate $1m To Fire Services Following Devastating Bushfires
Casino mogul James Packer is to give the cash to the Rural Fire Service over the next five years in order to help provide them with new equipment.
The state of NSW, as well as neighbouring Queensland, has been hit by catastrophic fires in the past few weeks.
The fires even managed to reach as far as suburban Sydney, but caused the bulk of their damage in rural areas.
To be fair, 52-year-old Mr Packer - who used to be engaged to singer Mariah Carey - has got the money to give.
He was recently named as the 13th richest bloke in Australia, with a personal fortune of about $5bn.
Packer announced that he'd be making the donation during a speech on Friday by Daily Telegraph editor Ben English at an event called the Bradfield Oration.
At the annual event, which is a discussion about the future of Sydney and attended by dignitaries, politicians, and all manner of important-sounding folks, Packer sent out a message that said: "We, like everybody, are touched by the tragedies and bravery occurring daily. It is a pleasure to make this modest contribution."
Next year's budget for the Rural Fire Service has already been slashed by five per cent from $551m to $524m.
That doesn't mean that the fires are going away, mind.
In fact, there are still a whole load of significant fires burning away that must be dealt with.
NSW Rural Fire Service confirmed that 250 homes have been destroyed since Friday and a further 90 have been damaged.
On top of that, 480 outbuildings and 18 facilities have been completely wrecked.
Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons confirmed today that he expects things to continue to be hard going for the firefighters.
He told 7 News: "It's going to be another very difficult day for people from the Hawkesbury right up to the mid-north coast, right up to the fires burning on the Queensland border,
"Unfortunately these strong winds, up to 60, 75km/h across the ranges, are really going to cause challenges."
More than 1,300 firefighters have been battling around 60 fires, but Fitzsimmons believes that the services are committed to getting the fires under control.
He continued: "There's fatigue alright, the physical fatigue, but these men and women, they're so emotionally and mentally invested in just trying to save and protect their communities."
Featured Image Credit: PA