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Australia Wildfires Death Toll Raised To 26

Sydney: A firefighter died while on duty in Australia’s state of Victoria, raising the toll from this season’s devastating bush fires to 26 deaths as the government deploys mental health services to aid those in affected areas.

“It is with great sadness that we confirm that a … firefighter from Parks Victoria has been involved in an incident while working on a fire in the Omeo area resulting in a fatality,” Forest Fire Management Victoria Chief Fire Officer Chris Hardman said in a statement to Reuters.

Since October, thousands of Australians have been subjected to repeat evacuations as huge and unpredictable fires scorched more than 10.3 million hectares, an area roughly the size of South Korea.

Officials said Saturday two wildfires merged to form a massive inferno in southeastern Australia and a man suffered serious burns protecting a