Buckinghamshire Freemasons give $150,000 for victims of Australian bush fires

Firefighters from a joint Australian and U.S. strike team keep an eye on a bush fire as they blackline an area in order to control the fire and protect nearby structures, in Alpine National Park near Omeo. The Australian firefighters are with Country Fire Authority Australia and the U.S. team is the third rotation in for 28 days and they come from five different U.S. agencies, the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the National Park Services. 12 Jan 2020. Photo by Ann Inger Johansson/ZUMA Wire/Shutterstock (10524216i)

People who have lost everything in the catastrophic Australian bushfires will be among those to benefit from a grant of AUS$150,000 (£79,000) from Buckinghamshire Freemasons to the Disaster Relief Funds set up by Freemasons in Australia.

The grant from the English and Welsh Freemasons’ charity will see AUS$50,000 given to the Australian Freemasons’ Disaster Relief Funds in each of the three states most affected by the blaze: New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

The unprecedented fires have seen 27 deaths, including a number of firefighters, with 2,136 homes destroyed in New South Wales alone, more than 1,200 of which have burned down since New Year’s Eve. Thousands of Australians are living in more than a dozen large evacuation centres, having been forced to flee the blaze.

Meanwhile, hundreds of homes and businesses have been lost in Victoria and South Australia. Many Australians have lost everything and the impact on the livelihoods of ordinary people is vast. The economy will take many years to fully recover.

An estimated 18 million acres of land have been burned, an area almost as large as Ireland. There has been an enormous impact on the environment, with up to a billion animals being killed. The death toll among koala bears alone has led to calls for the animals to be placed on the endangered species list.

Freemasons from Buckinghamshire have contributed to the grant that comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

John Clark head of Buckinghamshire Freemasons, said:

“These terrible fires are an ongoing disaster for thousands of Australians. I’m very pleased that Buckinghamshire Freemasons are working together with Freemasons in Australia to raise funds to help the victims of the blazes, many of whom have lost everything.”