ST. LOUIS – We’re starting to learn about the numbers which will help tell the tale of the devastating wildfires in Australia. At least 25 people dead. At least 2,000 homes destroyed. A swath of territory scorched that’s twice the size of the state of Maryland. Insurance claims that are nearing a half-billion US dollars.
Several basketball players with ties to the St. Louis area have been in-country since the wildfires began in September.
Cody Ellis played at SLU from 2009-2013, and hails from Perth, on Australia’s west coast. While the worst fires are predominantly on the east coast in the states of New South Wales and Queensland, western areas have been far from immune.
“The fires are still raging,” Ellis told FOX2 in a Twitter Direct Message earlier this week. “We have lost millions of animals. 1/3 of the koala population has been killed. So many people have lost everything they have. People have lost lives and everything. It’s so heart breaking.”
Belleville native Kevin Lisch who finished at SLU just prior to Ellis’ arrival, has been an Australian citizen for several years and has been a member of Australia’s National Basketball League’s Sydney Kings basketball team since 2016. He could not be reached for comment.
Rob Loe, who played at SLU from 2010-2014, is a forward for the NBL’s New Zealand Breakers.
Ellis and former Auburn and Missouri swingman Earnest Ross spent the 2019 season playing in Australia’s State Basketball League.
The Associated Press contributed information used in this story.