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Sydney - Houses were lost and firefighters injured as forests in parched south-eastern Australia burst into flames on Tuesday.
More than 500 mostly volunteer personnel were tackling 40 blazes with 200 fire trucks in New South Wales.
At Castlereagh, 70 kilometres west of Sydney, strong winds and temperatures above 30 degrees forced the Rural Fire Service to evacuate areas, close roads and prevent people from returning to fire-threatened homes.
Melinda Millard told news agency AAP that the fire had taken hold before she could get her horses to safety.
“By the time we got here it was too late,” she said. “It's scary. It's not even my place but knowing it could go any minute now is making me really emotional. We want to help people and the animals.”
Rural Fire Service spokesman Anthony Clarke confirmed that two properties had been lost and that seven firefighters had been injured, five with smoke inhalation and two with burns.