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Australian wildfire razes 27 homes, one man dead

A fast-moving wildfire destroyed at least 27 homes in western Australia's Perth, officials said Monday, with one man dying as he prepared for the approaching inferno. The blaze, thought to have been started by a fallen power line in the city's wooded outskirts on Sunday, was fanned by hot, strong gusts that saw 20-metre (66-foot) flames tear through residential streets.

Olympic flame plunges into Russia's lake Baikal

Russia on Saturday took the Olympic flame into its scenic lake Baikal, the world's deepest body of fresh water, in the latest dramatic torch relay ahead of the Sochi Winter Games. State television showed a torchbearer in a helmet propelled over the surface of the lake in a jet-powered backpack. He then passed the flame to a man in full diving gear with a special water-resistant torch.

Olympic flame plunges into Russia's lake Baikal

Russian on Saturday took the Olympic flame into its scenic lake Baikal, the world's deepest body of fresh water, in the latest dramatic torch relay ahead of the Sochi Winter Games. State television showed a torchbearer in a helmet propelled over the surface of the lake in a jet-powered backpack. He then passed the flame to a man in full diving gear with a special water-resistant torch.

U.S. wildfire smoke poses health hazards to distant communities: report

By Laura Zuckerman (Reuters) - Massive clouds of smoke spewed from U.S. wildfires raging ever more intensely in recent summers send soot, carbon monoxide and other toxins far and wide, posing health hazards for distant communities, scientists warned in a study on Thursday. The Natural Resources Defense Council report was based on government satellite images of smoke plumes from 2011, the latest such data available, providing a national snapshot of wildfire-related air pollution that year.

Australia merges wildfires ahead of 'bad' weather

Firefighters on Tuesday deliberately merged two major blazes in southeastern Australia in a desperate attempt to manage the advancing infernos ahead of weather conditions that authorities warn will be "as bad as it gets". Crews made up largely of volunteers worked tirelessly along trails in heavily forested areas west of Sydney to try to prevent the blazes becoming one out-of-control "mega-fire" that could race towards a third blaze nearby.

Q

Scores of bushfires were Tuesday burning in Australia's most populous state of New South Wales, in a disaster which has already destroyed more than 200 homes west of Sydney. Here are some key facts about the fires: Q: Why does Australia have so many fires? A: Wildfires are a common feature of Australia where the hot and dry weather makes the country prone to drought, which they often follow. At any time of the year, some part of Australia is susceptible to fire.

Parts of Australia facing worst bushfire threat in 40 years

Australian fire services warned Sunday that parts of New South Wales were facing the most dangerous combination of warm, dry weather and strong winds in more than 40 years as major wildfires swept the state. Fire crews ramped up containment efforts around several of the blazes with the weather forecast to deteriorate and officials warning of "unparalleled" dangers.

Unparalleled danger from Australian bushfires

Australian fire crews stepped up containment efforts around several major wildfires Sunday with the weather forecast to deteriorate and officials warning of "unparalleled" danger from the worst conditions in 40 years. More than 200 homes have already been destroyed and another 120 damaged by the wildfires which broke out across New South Wales state in unseasonably warm and dry weather earlier this week, fanned by extremely high winds.

Australia wildfires destroy homes, darken Sydney skies

Hundreds of homes are feared to have been destroyed by intense wildfires that tore across southeastern Australia in ferocious wind conditions Thursday, darkening Sydney's skies with smoke and ash, firefighters said. Five major blazes were burning across the state of New South Wales, fanned by high, erratic winds in unseasonably warm 34 degree Celsius (93 Fahrenheit) weather, as infernos in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney plunged the city into an eerie, ash-flecked darkness.

Australia wildfires destroy homes, darken Sydney skies

Hundreds of homes are feared to have been destroyed by intense wildfires that tore across southeastern Australia in ferocious wind conditions Thursday, darkening Sydney's skies with smoke and ash, firefighters said. Five major blazes were burning across the state of New South Wales, fanned by high, erratic winds in unseasonably warm 34 degree Celsius (93 Fahrenheit) weather, as infernos in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney plunged the city into an eerie, ash-flecked darkness.
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