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January 6 - Australia braces for 'catastrophic' wildfire days
Signs Of The
Australia was bracing on Monday for days of "catastrophic" fire and heat wave conditions, with fires already burning in five states and a search continuing for people missing after devastating wildfires in the island state of Tasmania.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard toured fire-ravaged Tasmanian townships and promised emergency aid for survivors, who told of a "fireball" that engulfed communities across the thinly-populated state on Friday and Saturday.
"The trees just exploded," local man Ashley Zanol told Australian radio, recounting a wall of flames that surrounded his truck as he carted water to assist fire crews in the hard-hit township of Murdunna, largely leveled in the inferno.
Bushfires were ablaze in five of Australia's six states, with 90 fires in the most populous state New South Wales, and in mountain forests around the national capital Canberra.
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