What sets these blazes apart, in terms of their size, is that they are happening in populated areas. Until now, fires this large happened mostly in places like northern Canada or Siberia, where few people live and blazes burn largely uncontrolled.

“What we’re seeing in Australia, in a completely different environment, are fires that are approaching or even exceeding the magnitude of things that we only saw in the most remote forested regions in the world,” said Ross Bradstock, the director of the Center for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires at the University of Wollongong in New South Wales.

“We’re looking at a globally significant fire season in Australia,” he added.

The numbers from Australia dwarf those from some of the most high-profile fires in recent years.