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Heavy rains provide much relieve amid deadly wildfires

NBC News Channel

MELBOURNE, Australia (NBC NEWS) - Heavy rain and storms swept over parts of Australia's Victoria State Wednesday.

Bringing some relief to the air quality in Melbourne.

Melbourne had earlier been shrouded in smokey haze from the devastating wildfires that have been burning for weeks.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe thunderstorm warning for large parts of the state, including Melbourne.

Senior meteorologist Kevin Park told reporters he's optimistic that wide areas of the state will receive much-needed rains.

"One thing from a weather perspective that the Bureau of Meteorology is looking at closely is this low-pressure trough morphing into a low-pressure system producing much more widespread rain,” Kevin Park, Bureau of Meteorology said. “So quite optimistic that come Sunday, Monday, instead of just showers and storm activity which can be hit and miss, we'll see wider areas of the (Victoria) state receiving much useful rainfall."

In Sydney, authorities deployed booms and silt curtains in the Warragamba Dam to safeguard the city's water supply from ash from nearby burnt forest as heavy rain is forecast over the next few days.

The fires have claimed at least 28 lives since September, destroyed over 2,600 homes and razed more than 25 and a half million acres, mostly in New South Wales.

Thousands of animals have also been estimated to have been killed and injured.

Koala hospitals in the fire-affected states continued to treat the injured animals.

Australian defense force soldiers, deployed in South Australia state, were dropping hay bales to remote farms on the devastated Kangaroo Island.

Much of the pasture used to feed livestock on the island has been destroyed by fire.

NBC News

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