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No relief in fight against Australian brushfires

Brushfire December 1, 1997
Web posted at: 1:54 p.m. EST (1854 GMT)

SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Firefighters battled to contain more than 170 brushfires across the southeastern state of New South Wales on Monday and fresh reinforcements had to be called in from neighboring Queensland state, officials said.

A warning that the fire danger ranged from high to very high was in effect for most of New South Wales, the country's most populous state.

Lightning strikes were believed responsible for most of the 90 new fires which flared during the weekend almost as quickly as the firefighters doused others.

Some 3,000 firefighters battled to contain more than 170 brushfires across Australia's New South Wales
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Aerial reconnaissance spotted the new fires on Monday morning, with most burning in rugged and remote country, but some threatening forests and farmland.

One fire closed a major highway near Coonabarabran, in northwestern New South Wales, and was threatening $27 million worth of forest timber and endangered species, a Rural Fire Service spokesman said.

Farmers in the area were advised to evacuate their homes if flames approached.


Soldiers were called in on Sunday to reinforce 3,000 weary firefighters already backed up with 30 water-carrying helicopters and five fixed-wing aircraft.

Another 25 volunteer firefighters with 10 fire vehicles were scheduled to leave Queensland on Monday to join 33 Queensland volunteers already in New South Wales with 14 firetrucks and support vehicles.

Brushfires in southeastern Australia, triggered by lightning and aided by dry, windy weather, have been burning for days. Almost all the remaining fires are in New South Wales, as most blazes in neighboring Victoria state were extinguished.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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