Richmond women living abroad are safe during deadly bush fires: ‘Everybody is praying for rain’

Local News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Parts of Australia finally saw some much-needed rain this week. The wet weather comes after months of wildfires destroying homes, devastating wildlife and killing at least 28 people across the continent.

8News has been in touch with two Richmond women who are living abroad right now in Sydney, Australia.

Stephany Thacker and Krissi Cecil both grew up in Mechanicsville and attended VCU.

Over FaceTime, Thacker tells 8News she was caught off guard when she heard cheers outside her apartment earlier this week.

“I could hear the rain and then I heard the screams,” she said.

Thacker has called Australia home for the past three years.

About three weeks ago, Krissi Cecil joined Thacker in Sydney as she heads back to school.

Cecil says in just her short time in Australia, her social media has been active because of concern over the fires.

“It really shows you how powerful media is when you have 20 messages on your Facebook inbox just saying, ‘Hey are you okay, where are you located, and how close are you?'” Cecil explained.

The women shared a handful of smokey pictures with 8News. One image shows the Sydney Opera House with a light haze in the air.

But other images show darker, more dramatic smoke.

In some photos, you can barely see the sun due to dense, orange air.

“Everyone’s on the same side here,” said Cecil. “The community feel of ‘I just want this to stop, I hope everyone is okay’ kind of feeling.”

In the southern hemisphere, Australia is in the middle of summer.

But instead of sunshine, most are hoping the recent wet weather will bring some relief for firefighters and communities along the fire lines.

“So crazy how excited everyone gets and everyone is just praying for rain,” said Thacker.

Living in Sydney, Thacker and Cecil say despite seeing smoke they are safe from the fires.

They tell 8News the closest active bush fires are several hours away from the city.

Instead of donating money, the women say they will soon start volunteering at a local food bank to help victims of the fires.

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