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Scores evacuated as wind fans wildfires near Sydney

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A firefighter hoses to control flames near houses at Bilpin, 75 kilometers (47 miles) west of Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013. Authorities have warned that hotter weather and increased winds are expected and are preparing for the conditions to worsen. A firefighter hoses to control flames near houses at Bilpin, 75 kilometers (47 miles) west of Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013. Authorities have warned that hotter weather and increased winds are expected and are preparing for the conditions to worsen. Image source: Associated Press

   SYDNEY (AP) — Scores of Australians have evacuated their homes in mountains west of Sydney as intensifying winds fanned wildfires that have ravaged the region for days.

   The winds were showering communities with embers Wednesday, and all schools were closed in anticipation of worsening fire conditions in the Blue Mountains. The region lost more than 200 homes to blazes last week.

   Springwood resident Rae Tebbutt said the atmosphere was tense in the village that was one of the worst-hit last week.

   Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says 71 blazes are burning in New South Wales state around Sydney, including 29 burning out of control.

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