(Bloomberg) -- Crews in South Australia are battling tostabilize wildfires and protect homes as hot weather forecast incoming days threatens to fan the flames.

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Firefighters used planes from neighboring Victoria in an effortto gain control of the blaze that has destroyed or damaged 26homes. The Country Fire Service warned temperatures would reach 38degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit) on Jan. 7 before cooling, whilethe Insurance Council of Australia declared a catastrophe.

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“We’ve got some dangerous weather approaching,” Premier JayWeatherill said in the state capital Adelaide. “The fact I’m nothere talking about deaths is a good thing, but we’ve got a bit of away to go before I think we can relax.”

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The blazes have left 29 people injured or hospitalized anddestroyed the biggest stretch of bush since 1983, when 75 people inSouth Australia and neighboring Victoria were killed in what becameknown as the Ash Wednesday fires. Australia’s hot, dry climatemakes wildfires a significant risk throughout the southernhemisphere’s summer.

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CFS Chief Officer Greg Nettleton said the next flash point waslikely in two days, when winds could whip around amid hightemperatures.

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Fire Zone Islands

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Crews are currently “securing the outer perimeter of the fire”,he said, and “what we call the islands that are contained withinthe larger fire perimeter.”

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While local crews are “making progress,” interstate firefightersare being flown in for deployment Jan. 7, Nettleton said. “Ourintention is to put as much as we possibly can into the fireaffected area, so when the weather comes through on Wednesday we’vegot lots of resources there.”

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Firefighters are currently opening access roads to allow peopleto return to their homes during the lull in the weather, hesaid.

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Climate change is increasing Australia’s fire threat, with theseason starting earlier and lasting longer in South Australia,according to a report by the Climate Council, an Australiannonprofit organization.

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In February 2009, bushfires across Victoria state killed 173people and destroyed 150 homes in the worst blazes in Australianhistory.

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The Insurance Council of Australia said claims by affectedproperty owners would be given priority.

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The federal government also announced assistance for peopleaffected by the bushfires.

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Copyright 2018 Bloomberg. All rightsreserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten,or redistributed.

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