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Bushfires destroy dozens of properties in Victoria, Australia

By Euan McKirdy, for CNN
updated 11:52 PM EST, Sun February 9, 2014
A firefighter monitors a back burn on Mt Victoria last year. Bushfires are a common summer occurrence in Australia
A firefighter monitors a back burn on Mt Victoria last year. Bushfires are a common summer occurrence in Australia
  • Bushfires raging in Victoria have destroyed 26 properties
  • Authorities describe the worst fires since Black Saturday which killed 173 people in 2009
  • One firefighter has been injured battling the blazes
  • About 40 bushfires are also burning in neighboring New South Wales

(CNN) -- Dozens of homes and farms have been destroyed by fire in the Australian state of Victoria in recent days, as fire crews battle to contain the state's worst bushfires in five years.

Australian public broadcaster ABC News reported at least 26 homes had been destroyed across the state, with most of the damage occurring in the northern Melbourne suburbs of Mickleham and Warrandyte, according to the Country Fire Authority.

Victoria Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said Sunday was "the most serious fire day we've had in the state in five years," referring to the Black Saturday tragedy that claimed 173 lives.

A firefighter in Victoria injured after being hit by a falling tree was the only fire-related injury reported at this time.

Strong winds and high temperatures-- which have hit 40˚C in recent days -- have created high-risk conditions in Victoria, where a total fire ban has been put in place.

About 40 bushfires are also raging in the neighboring state of New South Wales, with areas in the south of the state placed under high alert. No homes in the state have been destroyed.

Lapsley said that Sunday morning's fires were fast-moving and intense, and aided by wind.

While cooler temperatures forecast for coming days would be welcomed, he said, "it doesn't change the conditions, it doesn't bring rain... We will see the fire danger decrease but the fires still have the potential to do damage over the next number of days."

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