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Firefighter killed and at least 2 homes destroyed by Australian spring wildfires

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SYDNEY — A firefighter has been killed and at least two homes have been destroyed by Australian spring wildfires, officials said Saturday.

The 38-year-old volunteer firefighter was severely burned Friday while battling a blaze on a farm near the town of Nantawarra in South Australia state, state Country Fire Service chief officer Greg Nettleton said. The fire was later contained.

At least two homes were razed by wildfires Saturday on the outskirts of the town of Katoomba in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, in New South Wales state, state Rural Fire Service Inspector Ben Shepherd said.

The service's deputy commissioner, Bob Rogers, said firefighters had battled to protect homes in Katoomba from flames fanned by winds of 80 kilometers (50 miles) per hour.

"There'll be a lot of work to clean up this fire in days to come," Rogers told Nine Network television news.

By late Saturday, the winds had dropped off and the danger posed by the fire had decreased, although the blaze remained out of control, Shepherd said, adding that the damage was being assessed.

Around 70 wildfires were blazing across New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, on Saturday, Shepherd said.

Destructive wildfires are common in much of Australia during the spring and summer months.

More than 200 homes were destroyed by wildfires in the Blue Mountains last spring during a particularly devastating start to the wildfire season.

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