Rain extinguishes Australian wildfire and causes flooding

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Torrential rain lashing Australia’s east coast on Sunday has extinguished a major wildfire and caused widespread flash flooding.

Rain put out the Currowan Fire south of Sydney late Saturday after it destroyed 312 homes and razed 500,000 hectares (1.2 million acres) over 74 days, the New South Wales state Rural Fire Service said.

Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said he hoped the heavy rain would move inland from the coast and drench more major fires that have burned for months.

Fitzsimmons bid farewell at a Sydney Airport hotel on Sunday to 21 American and 21 Canadian firefighters who were heading home after their deployment battling Australian blazes.

A severe weather warning was in place on Sunday along most of the New South Wales coast and parts of Queensland to the north, with heavy rain, damaging winds, abnormally high tides and damaging surf forecast.

The State Emergency Service reported six flood rescues overnight near Grafton, north of Sydney. They were mostly people who became stranded while attempting to drive through floodwater.

Some east coast towns have received in recent days their heaviest rainfall in five decades.

On Australia’s northwest coast, Tropical Cyclone Damien made landfall late Saturday as a category 3 storm and weakened as it moved inland.

Several buildings had lost roofs, but authorities had yet to asses the full extent of the damage on Sunday.

Australian wildfires that have killed at least 33 and destroyed more than 3,000 homes in an unprecedented fire season that began late in a record-dry 2019.

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