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Australia wildfires claim one life and destroy at least 100 homes in New South Wales

Australia wildfires claimed one life and destroyed at least 100 homes in New South Wales after forcing thousands to evacuate their homes.

Authorities warned on Friday more homes could be lost as fires burned out of control.

The blazes are continuing to burn on the outskirts of Sydney, despite the easing of temperatures and winds.

One man has died while trying to protect his home.

PM Tony Abbott visited Winmalee in the Blue Mountains, one of the areas worst-hit by the fires, around 45 miles west of Sydney.

Correspondents say bushfires are common in Australia but they have come earlier than normal this year, sparking concerns of further problems to come.

Australia wildfires claimed one life and destroyed at least 100 homes in New South Wales after forcing thousands to evacuate their homes

Australia wildfires claimed one life and destroyed at least 100 homes in New South Wales after forcing thousands to evacuate their homes

Hundreds of residents spent Thursday night in evacuation centres, with many returning home to find their houses razed.

Fire fighters described blazes as tall as 60 to 100ft.

A 63-year-old man died from a heart attack as he tried to defend his home in Lake Munmorah, in the Central Coast region of NSW, on Thursday afternoon.

Around 2,000 fire fighters across the state worked to try and contain the fires but many are still burning out of control.

PM Tony Abbott, in Winmalee, said of those helping to battle the fires: “These are ordinary people who, on an extraordinary day, come together to support their community and to protect their fellow Australians.”

At least three fire fighters have been reported injured.

The NSW Rural Fire Service said an initial assessment of the Winmalee and Springwood areas showed that 81 properties had been destroyed, with 37 damaged.

“Approximately 30% of the fireground has been assessed,” it said.

“The number of properties destroyed or damaged will rise.”

Reports estimate that as many as 200 homes could be lost in total.

The fires have been caused by unseasonably hot temperatures and strong winds. While these have now died down, more hot weather is forecast next week.

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