More homes reported burned in southeast Australia wildfires

CANBERRA, Austrralia (AP) — Several rural homes were reportedly destroyed overnight in Australia’s southeast but the wildfire threat had diminished by Sunday across New South Wales state and around the national capital Canberra, officials said.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service said in a statement on Sunday it had yet to confirm media reports of homes lost near the village of Bumbalong, 92 kilometers (57 miles) south of Canberra.

The most dangerous fire threatened southern Canberra and the nearby village of Tharwa. The fire had burnt 55,000 hectares (136,000 acres) of forest and farmland by Sunday, with a perimeter 148 kilometers (92 miles) long, the Australian Capital Territory Emergency Services Agency said.

Residents close to the fire front were warned on Sunday to remain vigilant.

“This morning the fire is still active. There are still days and possibly weeks of firefighting ahead of us,” Australian Capital Territory Chief Minister Andrew Barr told reporters.

He said a state of emergency for Canberra and its surrounds would remain in place until at least Monday. It is the first such emergency declaration in the Australian Capital Territory since 2003, when wildfires killed four people and destroyed almost 500 homes in a single day.

There were no fires burning at emergency level -- the most dangerous on a three-tier scale -- across the Australian Capital Territory or surrounding New South Wales on Sunday.

Fires across southern Australia have claimed at least 33 lives since September, destroyed more than 3,000 homes and razed more than 10.6 million hectares (26.2 million acres).

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