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Wildfire kills one, razes dozens of homes in Australia

 
 
 
 
 
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Firefighters working to douse flames in Western Australia on Jan.13, 2013.

At least one person has died and dozens of homes have been destroyed as an intense wildfire rages through Australia’s west coast.

The fire has damaged and destroyed at least 40 houses in the city of Perth. Four people have also been reported missing in Parkerville, the village where the fire started.

“It has been confirmed that 40 homes have been lost at this stage, but this number is expected to increase as damage assessments continue throughout the day,” Western Australia’s Fire and Emergency Services Department said.

Emergency officials are warning that some 30 percent of the fire zone still needs to be searched and so damage reports could increase.

Nearly 300 firefighters are now battling the blaze. It broke out after days of sizzling heat in Perth which is now moving east.

Authorities have issued special directions and precautions for the local residents.

“If you are not at home, do not try to return as conditions in the area could be very dangerous,” the fire service said, adding, “If you are at home, do not try to leave as conditions in the area could be very dangerous and you will not be able to return.”

Hospitals are on standby and officials have warned of severe to extreme heat wave conditions.

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