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AUSTRALIA — Police have taken legal action against dozens of people suspected of intentionally starting bushfires as devastating blazes have destroyed thousands of homes and burned nearly 9 million acres in Australia.

In total, 180 people have been charged for bushfire-related offenses since November 2019. The crimes alleged by police range from disobeying posted signs to criminal activity, according to the New South Wales Police Force.

Police said 24 people have been charged over alleged deliberately-lit bushfires. Another 53 people have had legal action taken against them for failing to comply with a total fire ban and 47 people for discarding a lit cigarette or match on land.

Of the people charged so far, 40 are juveniles, police added.

Those charged with intentionally starting the fires could face up to 25 years imprisonment.

Anyone who lit a fire in a total fire ban zone faces up to 12 months imprisonment and a $5,500 fine.