Rain helps firefighters dampen Sydney blazes

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The Independent Online

Australia's weary firefighters were relieved late last night as unexpectedly heavy rain dampened some of the blazes which have ravaged New South Wales since Christmas Day.

Australia's weary firefighters were relieved late last night as unexpectedly heavy rain dampened some of the blazes which have ravaged New South Wales since Christmas Day.

About 10,000 mostly volunteer firefighters are tackling up to 100 fires, many lit by arsonists, on fronts totalling more than 1,200 miles around Sydney.

Up to 40mm of rain fell on fires in the Blue Mountains National Park west of Sydney and the Hawkesbury area to the north-west, but no significant rain fell on fires to the south around Shoalhaven. Fire officials sounded a note of caution as high temperatures and windy conditions were forecast for later today.

Firefighters burnt firebreaks near homes and along highways north, west and south of Sydney yesterday. Residents of the village of Bullaburra cheered as bushland bordering their homes was torched. One said: "This is going to be the buffer zone between disaster and being safe."

Officials said the fires had destroyed 101 homes and more than 550,000 hectares of bush, an area twice the size of Greater London. (AP)

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