FRENCH, AUSSIE FIREFIGHTERS BATTLE NOUMEA BLAZE

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MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Jan. 1) – Teams from Australia and France have been helping firefighters in New Caledonia battle [brushfires that have been raging near Noumea since Dec. 23] in the South Pacific territory.

Crews are continuing to fight fires on the outskirts of Noumea, but they say their efforts are being hampered by strong winds.

The fires are believed to have destroyed around 4,500 hectares of the tropical rainforests surrounding the capital.

Conservation groups have warned the fires could cause an environmental disaster.

January 2, 2006

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

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