President Barack Obama is sending his prayers and condolences to victims of Australia's worst wildfire disaster. Immediately after his first prime-time news conference on Monday night, Obama telephoned Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama and Rudd talked about the fires raging across Victoria state in Australia, fueled by strong winds, record heat and drought.
Australian authorities say more than 170 people have been killed, hundreds of homes have been destroyed and thousands have been left homeless.
Obama offered US assistance to help with the fires.