Australia: plane putting out wildfires near Sydney crashes killing pilot

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Australia: plane putting out wildfires near Sydney crashes killing pilot

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A plane dousing wildfires on the outskirts of Sydney has crashed in a national park, killing the 43 year old pilot and sparking a new blaze.

The accident happened as the immediate threat from wildfires eased because of cooler weather. However the fire service is warning of more hot and dry weather ahead as summer hits its peak.

Fifty five fires are still burning across the state of New South Wales. More than 200 homes have been destroyed since the wildfires began a week ago.

In the Blue Mountains outside Sydney, residents began to return to what is left of their homes, many managing to keep an optimistic outlook.

Stephen Close, whose house was damaged by the fires, said: “Of course we’ll rebuild. We’ve lived here for 33 years. We’ve never had our house destroyed before. I figure if we’ve got another 33 years, we should be alright.”

His neighbour, Grahaeme Allan, said: “You feel a bit safer now. They basically said that there is not much more that can burn down there. So, hopefully get back to work and back to normal.”

The Australian military is facing criticism for causing one of the major fires during a training exercise. Blue Mountains Mayor, Mark Greenhill, said the army should have known better than to ignite explosives on a day with dry heat and strong winds.

Police have also arrested several children suspected of starting fires.