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Australia wildfires leave thousands homeless

ADELAIDE, Australia -- More than two dozen homes have been destroyed or badly damaged and almost 30 people have sought medical treatment as a result of a massive wildfire that has raged out of control for days across farms and woodland in southern Australia, officials said Monday.

Hundreds of fire fighters have taken advantage of milder conditions in recent days to attempt to contain the fire which has razed 31,000 acres of countryside in hills northwest of the South Australia state capital Adelaide, State Premier Jay Weatherill said.

Since the fire started Friday, 29 people had been injured or hospitalized with conditions such a severe asthma, he said.

The only serious injury was a farmer who suffered suspected spinal injuries protecting his property, Network Ten television news reported.

Recovery teams had found 26 houses destroyed or badly damaged as well as more than more 40 scorched barns and sheds, Weatherill said.

The Country Fire Service said in a statement the fire had not grown significantly Monday, but added conditions were forecast to worsen with higher temperatures and stronger winds later in the week.

Hot and windy conditions that had fanned the flames on Friday and Saturday, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate their homes, have eased since Sunday when officials lowered the fire's danger rating from the highest level.

Destructive wildfires are common across much of Australia during the summer months. In 2009, wildfires killed 173 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes in Victoria state.

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