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Forest fire devastates 3 residences in southeastern Australia, injuring man struck by falling tree

Three homes were destroyed by a forest fire and a man was injured by a falling tree in the Bega Valley region of southeastern Australia, prompting a government leader to warn on Wednesday that a “horror” wildfire season was approaching.

Scores of wildfires have recently raged across the states of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania as Australia’s driest September on record and unusually warm weather have brought an early start to the annual wildfire season, which peaks during the Southern Hemisphere summer.

Three homes were destroyed Tuesday night by a fire that threatened several Bega Valley communities and razed more than 5,200 hectares (12,800 acres). A man aged in his 40s was taken to a hospital in stable condition after a tree fell on his car on Wednesday morning, officials said.

Widespread rain across Australia’s southeast eased the fire danger on Wednesday and brought flood warnings to parts of Victoria.

New South Wales Premier Chris Minns said firefighters in the Bega Valley, 260 miles south of the state capital Sydney, had had a “hellish 24 hours.”

A day earlier, some of the same communities had been threatened by wildfires.

Heavy rain on Wednesday was forecast to continue across Victoria on Thursday.

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