The fires are growing rapidly due to strong winds and hot weather, and homes have been lost in the suburbs of Warrandyte, Mickleham and Gisborne, which are about 50km north west of Melbourne; one fire-fighter in the state of Victoria has also been injured.

There are currently more than 70 fires in Victoria and 15 emergency warnings are in place.

Hundreds of firefighters have been called in to battle the blazes, but authorities are worried about the threat posed to the coal-fired 1,600 megawatt Hazelwood Power Station in Latrobe Valley.

Victoria is experiencing an extremely hot summer and although temperatures are predicted to cool, which may help curb the fires, gusty winds that continue to below are not helping.

Victoria Premier Denis Naphtine said: “The Victorian government has an assistance package in place that will be rolled out immediately for those people who have lost their homes.”

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