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Australian wildfire destroys over forty homes

A wildfire that tore across the outskirts of an Australian city destroyed at least 41 homes and damaged another 19.

One firefighter was injured and several people were treated for smoke inhalation.

Firefighters were close to stopping the spread of that wildfire today and another that broke out over the weekend in the same area of Western Australia state.

The two blazes have razed 4,000 acres of forested land to the north and south east of Perth since Saturday, Fire and Emergency Services Authority spokesman Alan Gale said.

In Roleystone and the nearby community of Kelmscott, at least 41 houses were destroyed and another 19 damaged, despite the efforts of 200 firefighters, the authority's chief operations officer Craig Hynes, said.

But he said that tally could rise as a survey of the scorched area continued.

A woman firefighter who was injured fighting the blaze, which erupted shortly before noon yesterday, local time, was in a stable condition at a hospital.

Several residents took themselves to hospital after suffering minor smoke inhalation, Mr Hynes said.

"The pleasing thing is that there's been no serious injuries or fatalities," he said.

Residents who were evacuated from the path of the blaze had not yet been allowed to return to their homes due to the continuing fire danger, Mr Hynes said.

Further north, in the Swan Valley district, some 150 firefighters using water-bombing helicopters and trucks had contained another fire by early Monday. There was no property lost there, Mr Gale said.

About 100 people were told to evacuate their homes as authorities tried to contain that blaze, which started on Saturday and had scorched about 3,000 acres of forest land by yesterday.

The Roleystone fire was started accidentally when a man using an electric grinder in his garden ignited dry grass with sparks, the Fire and Emergency Services Authority said. The other fire began when a tree branch that was blown down by strong winds hit electrical transmission equipment.

The fires in Australia's far west come as huge areas of the east coast recover from a major cyclone that struck in Queensland state last week and from flooding from drenching rains in Queensland and southern Victoria state.

February is the last month of summer in Australia and also marks the height of both the monsoon season in the tropical north and the riskiest period for wildfires.