Home-razing blaze near Melbourne

AFP-JIJI

At least 20 homes have been razed in southeastern Australia in the worst fire conditions seen since a deadly 2009 inferno that killed 173 people, with flames threatening the nation’s second-largest city, officials said Monday.

Hot, dry winds and soaring temperatures fanned scores of major blazes across the southeast Sunday, with Victoria state sweltering through its worst fire risk weather in five years.

The emergency came exactly five years after the so-called Black Saturday firestorm devastated the state, flattening whole towns in what was Australia’s deadliest natural disaster of the modern era.