Two wildfires merged to form a massive inferno in southeast Australia on Saturday, near where a man suffered serious burns protecting a home during a night of treacherous conditions during the nation's unprecedented fire crisis.
Authorities were assessing the damage after firefighters battled flames fanned by strong winds through the night and lightning strikes sparked new blazes in New South Wales and Victoria, Australia's most populous states. Conditions were milder Saturday and forecast to remain relatively benign for the next week.
Several firefighters received minor burns, and one suffered shortness of breath but were not admitted to a hospital, Fitzsimmons, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner said.
With no heavy rain expected, the 640,000-hectare blaze that formed overnight when two fires joined in the Snowy Mountains region near Tumbarumba close to the Victorian border is expected to burn for weeks, officials said.
The fire crisis in Australia has killed at least 26 people, destroyed more than 2000 homes and scorched an area larger than the US state of Indiana since September.