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One man dead as bush fires sweep Tasmania

Jan. 4, 2013 at 7:36 AM

HOBART, Australia, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Police in Tasmania ordered evacuations throughout the island Friday as a bush fire destroyed dozens of properties and killed one man, officials said.

The fire appears to have started Thursday from a campfire that was not properly extinguished Wednesday night in the Derwent Valley, police told the Sydney Morning Herald. A total fire ban was imposed Thursday as the town of Hobart reached its highest ever temperature at 107 degrees.

Firefighters are battling 19 active fires throughout the country.

Police said one man died defending his home in Forcett where at least 65 homes and businesses have been destroyed, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

About 80 properties were destroyed between Dunalley and Boomer Bay, Tasmanian Police acting Commissioner Scott Tilyard told the Herald.

The towns of Copping, Murdunna, Bicheno, Ellendale, Karanja and Lake Repulse have also seen extensive damage and evacuations.

Police rescued at least 50 people stranded on the waterfront at the tip of the Tasman Peninsula by boat, the Morning Herald reported.

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