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All Bushfires Extinguished In Australia's Hardest-Hit New South Wales, Officials Say

Australian officials announced on Friday there are no longer any active bush or grass fires in New South Wales, the state hardest-hit by massive wildfires that have scorched millions of acres in the country since July.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service said in a tweet on Monday that the fires had raged for "more than 240 days" across the country's most populous state.

The respite comes more than two weeks after torrential rains helped to put out some fires and contain others.

While NSW has been the worst-affected, record high temperatures and other extreme weather conditions have also led to unprecedented wildfire devastation in other regions, including Queensland and Victoria.

Over several months, the summer bushfires consumed thousands of homes, claimed more than 30 lives and decimated wildlife populations.

Firefighters from around the world, including the United States and Canada, and members of the Australian Defence Force helped battle the blazes as they ravaged more than 42,000 square miles (27 million acres) of land across the country — an area about the size of the U.S. state of Virginia.

The end of the fires does not mean the end of Australia's natural disaster woes, however. The latest climate disaster roiling the country involves the very water that has put an end to the inferno; recent flash floods in eastern Australia have left thousands without power in parts of NSW and Queensland.

"It's a pretty vicious cycle, unfortunately," Julia Holman of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation told NPR.

"The rainfall has been welcomed mainly because it has put out these enormous bush fires that we've had. ... But the rainfall in some parts has been extreme and too much for emergency services to cope with in some cases," Holman said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.