SYDNEY — Navy ships plucked hundreds of people from beaches and tens of thousands were urged to flee Friday before hot weather and strong winds in the forecast worsen Australia's already-devastating wildfires.

More than 200 fires were burning, and warnings of extreme danger to come Saturday set in motion one of the largest evacuations in Australian history. Thousands have already fled at-risk coastal areas, creating traffic gridlock in places, and firefighters escorted convoys of evacuees as fires threatened to close roads.

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