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FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 30, 2019, aerial photo, wildfires rage under plumes of smoke in Bairnsdale, Australia. Thousands of tourists fled Australia's wildfire-ravaged eastern coast Thursday ahead of worsening conditions as the military started to evacuate people trapped on the shore further south. (Glen Morey via AP)

How to help victims of Australia’s apocalyptic wildfires

Devastating bushfires have been spreading across Australia for months, and they show no signs of slowing down. So far, about 12.35 million acres have burned, destroying more than 1,400 homes and killing at least 23 people.

It is estimated that more than half a billion wild animals have perished in the flames — a number that is expected to exponentially increase. Entire towns have evacuated to the shores and volunteer firefighters have left their families and careers behind to fight the flames around the clock.

Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been widely criticized for failing to take action against the climate crisis. As Australia attempts to battle this unprecedented national crisis, organizations need all the help they can get.

In this image released Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020, from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning in Gippsland, Australia, a massive smoke rises from wildfires burning in East Gippsland, Victoria.
DELWP GIPPSLAND VIA AP

How to help evacuees

  • Donate to the Australian Red Cross, which is supporting thousands of people in evacuation and recovery centers across the country. Local residents can volunteer their services.
  • Donate to the Salvation Army Australia, which is providing meals and support to evacuees and first responders in multiple locations.
  • Extra room in your home? Offer to host people in need of emergency housing on AirBnB.
  • Donate to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which is helping evacuated families recover. The organization is providing food and clothing, helping cover bills, and donating household items to those whose homes have been destroyed.
    Donate food, funds or services to Foodbank, the largest hunger-relief charity in Australia.
    Donate to a GoFundMe dedicated to displaced First Nations Communities that need to rebuild.
  • Donate food, toiletries and household items using Givit.

How to help firefighters

  • Donate to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service. The service has set up specific funds for the families of volunteer firefighters who have been killed while on duty this fire season.
  • Additionally, actor and comedian Celeste Barber is also hosting a fundraiser for the Trustee for NSW Rural Fire Service and Brigades donations fund.
  • Donate to Victoria’s firefighting service, Country Fire Authority. The service is also managing locals who want to provide accommodation for people who have been displaced.
  • The Country Fire Service in South Australia is taking direct donations.
  • Donate to the Rural Fire Brigades Association to support firefighters in Queensland.

How to help wildlife

Donate to WIRES, a wildlife rescue nonprofit that is rescuing and caring for thousands of sick, injured and orphaned native animals.

Donate to the World Wildlife Fund Australia, which is directing its efforts towards koala conservation.

Donate to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital’s GoFundMe, which has rescued and treated dozens of koalas suffering from severe burns. The hospital is using donations to install automatic drinking stations in burnt areas to help wildlife searching for water and to establish a wild koala breeding program to ensure the survival of the species.

Donate to the RSPCA New South Wales, which is helping evacuate, rescue and treat pets and wildlife in threatened areas.

Author: SOPHIE LEWIS/CBS News
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