Australia bushfires equivalent to 40% of Illinois being burned

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The world's attention is focused on Australia, where more than 200 active bushfires are burning. Most of those are burning along the coast, where more than 85% of the country's population resides.

Those 200 active fires have burned more than 14 million acres - or 21,000 square miles. That's equal to about 40% of the entire state of Illinois, from the Wisconsin border to about Bloomington.

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As firefighters continue to battle the flames across Australia, authorities in New South Wales (NSW) say 24 people have been charged with deliberately setting fires.

Australia's fire season typically runs from December to March, but these fires began in September and are expected to last for several more months.

So far this fire season, 1,687 homes have been destroyed in New South Wales, with 771 homes lost since Jan. 1 alone, according to the state's Rural Fire Service.
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