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Tue Jan 8, 2013, 08:02 AM

Wildfires rage across Australia amid searing heat

Firefighters battled scores of wildfires raging across southeastern Australia on Tuesday as authorities evacuated national parks and warned that blistering temperatures and high winds had led to "catastrophic" conditions in some areas.

Wildfires have razed 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) of forests and farmland across southern Tasmania since Friday. In New South Wales, the country's most populous state, the fires had burned through more than 30,000 hectares (74,000 acres) of land. All state forests and national parks were closed as a precaution and total fire bans were in place with temperatures surpassing 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) in some areas.

More than 130 fires were blazing across New South Wales, though only a few dozen houses were under threat as night fell. One home was destroyed in the village of Jugiong, northwest of the capital of Canberra, fire officials said.

Strong winds were hampering efforts to bring the fires under control. Wind gusts of more than 100 kilometers an hour (62 miles per hour) were recorded in some parts of the state, though a cool front moving across the region late Tuesday was bringing relief from the searing temperatures and raising hopes that New South Wales might avoid major damage.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/01/08/3771462/wildfires-rage-across-australia.html#storylink=cpy

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