Drenching rain brings some relief to exhausted firefighters in Australia

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Intense thunderstorms with heavy rains dampened bushfires on Australia’s east coast on Friday, to the relief of exhausted firefighters and farmers battling years of drought, and granting a reprieve to the organizers of next week’s Australian Open.

Australia, famous for its pristine beaches and wildlife, has been fighting bushfires since September, with fires killing 29 people and millions of animals, and destroying more than 2,500 homes while razing an area roughly a third the size of Germany.

Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, three of the states most affected by drought and bushfires welcomed this week’s drenching rain, with fire services saying it would not extinguish all the blazes, but would greatly aid containment.