A raging brushfire, fueled by a blistering heat wave, has burned nearly half of Fraser Island off Australia’s eastern coast, the world’s largest sand island and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with potentially catastrophic repercussions for its ecosystems and wildlife. Experts say the high temperatures, fueled by climate change, and the presence and activities of European settlers are combining to create conditions for fires that could be ecologically catastrophic for the island. “The vegetation on Fraser Island is extremely dry and because it’s so dry it’s therefore very easy to ignite,” incident controller James Haig told AFP. Europeans abandoned the traditional fire management practices used by the indigenous Butchulla, and 128 years of logging on the island have made it especially vulnerable. “This is a very large and very hot fire for this island. It’s a big fire and it’s the wrong kind of fire,” Dr. Gabriel Conroy, a conservation biologist at the University of the Sunshine Coast, told The Guardian. (Fires: The Guardian, CBS/AFP; Heat wave: The Guardian; Climate Signals background: Wildfires; Extreme heat and heat waves)