Aussie bush fires claim first death

Aussie bush fires claim first death

21 November 2006

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Australia — Bush fires sweeping across wide areas of threeAustralian states have claimed their first victim.

A Rural Fire Service spokesman in New South Wales says firefighters found thebody of a man on a property near Batemans Bay. Ironically, the firefighters wereresponding to a much smaller fire than the massive blaze to the west, whereflames have swept through 21,000 acres of bush land in the Blue Mountains.

In South Australia, more than 4,000 firefighters across the state arestruggling to bring 60 fires under control.

Lightning strikes started most of the blazes and, until the death,firefighters had prevented any casualties to people or damage to property.

A Country Fire Service spokesman said some 29,000 lightning strikes wererecorded in South Australia, sparking the fires and causing power blackouts and”nightmarish conditions” for fire crews.

In Victoria, a violent storm lashed areas around Melbourne after a day inwhich firefighters battled dozens of blazes across the state.

One fire destroyed nearly 20,000 acres of bush land in the Little DesertNational Park in western Victoria.

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