National

Dec 30, 2009 9:17 AM by Associated Press

Wildfires destroy homes in Australia

Hundreds of people in western Australia have fled ahead of a wildfire that has destroyed nearly 40 homes.

At least three people were injured as two major blazes burned out of control after breaking out Tuesday in a wheat and sheep farming district north of the coastal city of Perth. The two fires scorched a combined total of more than 33,000 acres of forest and farmland before cooler conditions on Wednesday helped hundreds of firefighters contain them.

Western Australia state Premier Colin Barnett declared a natural disaster - freeing up emergency funds for survivors - and praised authorities who battled the blazes.

Wildfires are common across Australian during the summer months, but they rarely claim so many homes.

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