Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Wildfires rage across Australia

Firefighters are trying to confirm reports that up to 65 buildings have been damaged by a wildfire in Tasmania, Australia

Firefighters are battling a series of wildfires across Australia amid scorching temperatures, with one blaze suspected of damaging or destroying dozens of buildings in the island state of Tasmania.

Firefighters are trying to confirm reports that up to 65 buildings have been damaged by a wildfire near the small town of Dunalley, east of the Tasmanian capital Hobart, said Tasmania fire service spokesman Paul Symington.

Officials are also looking into a report that one person was killed in the blaze.

"There has been significant loss of structures," said Tasmania acting police commissioner Scott Tilyard.

Wildfires are raging across southern Australia amid blistering temperatures and high winds. The temperature in Hobart reached a record high of nearly 42 Celsius.

Conditions are expected to ease across much of the region by Saturday, but fire officials warned that the danger from some of the fires remained high.

"We reached catastrophic fire danger ratings at times during this afternoon," Tasmania fire service chief officer Mike Brown told reporters. "I don't think we're quite out of the woods yet."

Wildfires are common during the Australian summer. In February 2009, hundreds of fires across Victoria state killed 173 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes.

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