Wildfires raze dozens of homes in New Zealand

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Wellington

Wildfires have destroyed up to 50 homes in New Zealand, authorities announced Monday, saying it was a miracle no one was hurt as ‘a wall of orange’ razed most of a remote South Island village.
The blaze began in a mountain forest early Sunday morning and, fanned by strong winds, swept through the village of Lake Ohau, forcing residents to flee for their lives. Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) said the unpredictable winds made fighting the fire ‘challenging’ and by Monday afternoon it had razed 4,600 hectares (18 square miles) of land.
Waitaki District mayor Gary Kircher said the tiny Lake Ohau community had been devastated. ‘Of the 60 or 70 houses, we believe that the majority have gone,’ he told Radio New Zealand.
‘The reality is that it’s a minor miracle no one has been harmed. If it had been anther 15-20 minutes it would have been a very different story.’ Kircher described how residents awoke to find an inferno bearing down on them.—AFP