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Last Updated: Monday, 23 January 2006, 10:02 GMT
Australia hit by more bushfires
Flames glow behind fire-ravaged trees near Woy Woy, earlier this month.
Southern Australia also suffered bushfires earlier in January
Fire-fighters in Australia are battling to contain the latest wave of bushfires which have spread across four states.

One firefighter was killed and three were injured when their vehicle rolled over as they headed towards a blaze.

In the worst-hit state of Victoria at least 20 homes have been destroyed in a blaze that spread across more than 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres).

Police are investigating whether two people found dead in a burnt-out car in Victoria were victims of the fires.

Farmers estimate that thousands of sheep and cattle could have been lost as a result of the fires.

'Completely destroyed'

Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania were all affected by bushfires over the weekend, as temperatures soared to over 40C.

There were about a dozen fires in Victoria alone, according to the Victorian Country Fire Authority.

One resident, Jenny Hayme, said her home in a badly-scorched area of the Grampians mountains was completely destroyed.

"There are only a few salvageable plants and some tanks of water," she said.

The bodies of two people were found in a car near Moyston in south-western Victoria, where the largest fire was raging.

Fire officials told reporters that it was unclear whether the victims were killed by the fire itself, or whether they died when their car crashed in thick smoke generated by the blaze.

Fire-fighters across all four states are hoping to take advantage of Monday's brief respite from the weekend's heat wave.

"We're hoping to consolidate [the fires]... before the temperatures peak back into the 40s later in the week," Victorian Country Fire Authority deputy chief officer Graham Fountain told Australian TV.

"But nothing is guaranteed, so we need to remain vigilant," he said.

Australia suffers from bushfires every summer. Earlier this month, several homes in New South Wales and in western Victoria were destroyed.


SEE ALSO:
Australian arsonists under watch
03 Jan 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Bushfires edging towards Sydney
01 Jan 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Australian fires continue to rage
02 Jan 06 |  Asia-Pacific


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