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10 homes lost, but Australian fires dampened by cool change

by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) Dec 18, 2009
Wildfires have destroyed 10 homes and hundreds of livestock in eastern Australia, officials said Friday, as residents recounted the trauma of facing the infernos.

Blistering heat and windy conditions fanned 100 fires across New South Wales on Thursday, including one in Sydney, and left 1,000 sheep and 200 cattle dead in their wake, the Rural Fire Service said.

"We had terrible fire conditions -- hot, windy, everything else like that," said Lindsay Perrin, whose home narrowly escaped the flames in Michelago south of the national capital Canberra.

"We're up a hill from what was the fire front, so it just ran, it just flew up. Incredibly intense, we thought we could fight it, but we couldn't.

"I had 18 retired greyhounds of which I had to listen to 13 burn to death, which was a nightmare, but I've saved five," she told state radio.

Four homes were lost in Gerogery in the state's far south, while three homes were consumed by flames in Michelago. Another three unoccupied holiday homes were destroyed near Tumbarumba.

Cooler and wetter conditions on Friday were aiding some 630 firefighters battling 85 blazes, the Rural Fire Service said.

"A number of them are contained but we still have a number of ongoing fires," chief superintendent Bruce McDonald told AFP. "It's a much better day today."

Fire authorities are most concerned about the Michelago fire because it has now entered rugged mountain country, making it more difficult to access, McDonald said.

Rain which has fallen over much of the state since late Thursday is also hampering efforts to preemptively backburn in that area, he added.

Australia is still recovering from February's Black Saturday fires, when 173 people died in the country's worst natural disaster of modern times.

The annual bushfire season has struck early this year, fanned by hot and dry conditions and following a decade-long drought in parts of the country.

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More than 120 wildfires hit southeastern Australia
Sydney (AFP) Dec 10, 2009
More than 120 wildfires fanned by high winds and soaring temperatures raged in southeastern Australia Thursday, prompting emergency warnings for several towns, officials said. Some 2,000 firefighters tackled the fires in New South Wales, where a large blaze was burning dangerously close to farming properties in the state's northwest. "A fire is burning in very high fire-danger conditions ... read more

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