Australia braces for continued drought conditions after fires destroy 200 homes

Deadly brushfires in Australia have killed at least 18 people and destroyed 200 homes as of Wednesday, according to the BBC.

The latest fires have caused at least seven deaths in New South Wales and another in Victoria, although conditions have eased enough that officials were able to re-open a road in Victoria for two hours to allow people to evacuate. The deaths in New South Wales included a 28-year-old volunteer firefighter whose fire engine was flipped by high winds.

In another affected town, police dropped off 1.6 metric tons of drinking water by boat, according to the outlet.

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Police have also warned residents of Sunbury, Victoria – northwest of Melbourne – to evacuate amid an emergency fire warning. As of Wednesday, smoke was visible from New Zealand’s South Island, more than 1,200 miles away.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that milder temperatures were expected Wednesday and that workers would use that time to work to restore power; however, she also said temperatures were projected to spike again Saturday, according to the BBC.

“At the very least, weather conditions will be at least as bad as what they were yesterday,” she said.

Drought has exacerbated the damage from the fire season, with Australian officials blaming the devastation on climate change, according to MSNBC.

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