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Flights canceled in Canberra airport due to fire

Christian Fernsby |
Flights have been canceled on Canberra's airport for much of today as bushfire posed threat to the east of the Australian capital.

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The blaze, started Wednesday afternoon in Redwood Forest of Pialligo, was fanned up by strong wind on Thursday morning and merged with a second fire.

Now called the Beard fire, it engulfed more than 400 hectares at the border between the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and New South Wales. It was once at an emergency level, when people near the airport in Beard, Harman, Oaks Estate and Crestwood were told to seek shelters.

Although it has been downgraded to a "watch and act" level as of Thursday evening by the ACT Emergency Services Agency, firefighters remained at the scene.

The Canberra airport said on its Twitter that its terminal "has not been evacuated." "However, arriving and departing flights are affected," it tweeted. "Please contact your airline for up to date information."

A number of roads were closed as well.

Bushfires have been burning in Australia for more than three months, killing at least 29.

Three U.S. firefighters were confirmed dead on Thursday when a water tanker plane crashed while fighting a bushfire in Cooma, to the south of Canberra.

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