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Firefighters battle over 250 blazes in scorching Australia

Published on Jan 15, 2014 12:03 PM

SYDNEY (AFP) - Lightning strikes ignited more than 250 fires across southeast Australia overnight, officials said on Wednesday, as firefighters battled to put out the flames and the country sweltered under a heatwave.

In Victoria state, where catastrophic firestorms claimed 173 lives and razed more than 2,000 homes in 2009, efforts focused on containing about 20 blazes.

A further 18 fires had already been brought under control or were being mopped up, and officials said no homes were currently under direct threat.

"Firefighters kept busy with 256 new fires started by lightning overnight," Victoria's Country Fire Authority said.

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