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Firefighters battling nearly 100 fires in New South Wales

Jan. 19, 2014 at 9:56 AM

MELBOURNE, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Firefighters in Australia's New South Wales state were battling nearly 100 fires Sunday, officials said. Bush fires also burned in Victoria and South Australia.

Weather conditions eased in New South Wales, making it easier for firefighters to quell flames Sunday evening, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said he was concerned by the number of fires burning in the state.

"Obviously we're concerned about new fires again that would have come from lightning," he told ABC. "The number of fires that we're trying to deal with is just going up alarmingly."

Meanwhile, in South Australia, at least 15 homes were destroyed in five fires, the Country Fire Service reported. Spokesman Rob Sandford said steep terrain near two of the fires burning near Bangor made it difficult for firefighters to monitor.

"It only needs one stump or one tree for embers to be picked up and cross the control lines where that may take off and threaten communities again," he said.

In Victoria, residents of Halls Gap and Grampians Junction were told they could return home as the threat of a fire burning there has been reduced, officials said.

Deputy chief officer Joe Buffone said firefighters were gaining some ground in Victoria.

"The main aim is to make the most of the conditions to secure the control lines for the rest of this week and for any potential of spike for severe fire weather days," he said.

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