In this photo taken on December 30, 2009 a total fire ban sign is shown in the Shire of Augusta and Margaret River in the south-west corner of Western Australia.

Sydney -

Seven homes were destroyed by wildfire in Australia, officials said on Monday, warning of a long and difficult summer ahead for firefighters.

The large blaze at Tulka, 12 kilometres south of Port Lincoln in South Australia state, razed the homes as it tore through 2 000 hectares of scrubland late on Sunday, the Country Fire Service (CFS) said.

Extra crews had been called in to help fight the fire, which was burning within containment lines but was yet to be brought under control. Residents had been evacuated.

“We have about 100 firefighters on the ground,” a CFS spokesman told AFP.

“Although it's not posing any immediate threat it still hasn't been controlled.”

It was unclear what sparked the fire but it quickly gathered force due to the hot, squally weather, the spokesman said.

Conditions were expected to be milder Monday, favouring fire crews, but South Australia and most other states are anticipating a tough summer with hot and dry weather forecast.

“We've had a lot of rainfall, a lot of growth, a lot of vegetation and we're expecting a very busy fire season as a consequence of that,” the CFS spokesman said.

Southeastern Australia was last devastated by wildfires in February 2009, when a horrific blaze swept through Victoria state, killing 173 people and destroying more than 2 000 homes.

It was Australia's worst natural disaster in the modern era. - Sapa-AFP