Residents in the suburbs of Australia’s capital Canberra were briefly evacuated on Wednesday as a bushfire broke out near its airport.
Air quality in the capital city, as well as Sydney and Melbourne, has been listed among the worst in the world as the fires burn nearby. The sky is often clouded with smoke outside of the cities, particularly as a dust storm moves across the southern part of the country.
Since their outbreak in September, the wildfires have killed at least 29 people and an estimated one billion animals. They have burned a total of about 27 million acres, an area larger than the country of Austria.
Firefighters had been battling the blazes during a period of rain and milder temperatures. But on Wednesday, high temperatures and winds returned. Temperatures in Victoria are predicted to exceed 104 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday.
Some Australians are stepping up with courageous acts during the fires, even the non-humans. A six-year-old Kelpie-Border Collie cross named Patsy saved a flock of sheep as bushfires approached her town of Corryong in Victoria.
On the morning of New Year’s Eve, fires began licking at the edges of Patsy’s territory. Along with her owner, Patsy went out into the fields to herd up her flock of sheep and bring them to safety. She sat alongside her owner as the fire approached and waited until it was close enough that he could fight it with a water pump. “Cool as a cucumber,” her owner wrote on Instagram.
Since her heroic deeds, Patsy has amassed more than 11,000 followers on Instagram.
Not all of Australia has been affected by the fires. For those who are planning to to visit, check out Travel + Leisure’s guide to traveling in Australia during the bushfires and helping out while you're there.