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Today Tonight -

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(generated from captions) we've unfortunately become used to - This is a scene houses burnt to the ground. In the last 24 hours alone, have been accounted for. another 800 destroyed homes have now been lost. That means 1,830 homes is clear - The message from authorities

another tough weekend it's going to be from this disaster. in terms of tolls more stories of hope. But, amid all this rubble, Coming up, the all-star support - ordinary Aussies the celebrities joining fundraising effort. in our most amazing And our out-of-control weather - cold snaps. heatwaves, torrential rain,

over the next month. You won't believe what's coming of one man's effort But first, the inside story burnt down around him. to rebuild the town that literally

Thomas Libreri gave us into Kinglake our first real insight at the start of the week. Well, he hasn't stopped since, strangers day and night. helping neighbours and complete Tim Noonan has this special report.

He's done a fantastic job - that we need. it's locals like Thomas If I helped those 20 people yesterday, that didn't have generators that's 20 more that I helped. good - He's a god.

He is amazing.

I'm no hero. his neighbours and his mates - I'm just a local bloke helping out that's all I'm doing,

that don't have anything. I'm taking services to people I'm no hero. I'm just doing what I can do. trying to do. And that's what everybody's

In the scorched town of Kinglake, to arrive - one man isn't waiting for help to any 500 left homeless. Thomas Librieri has opened his home as long as they want, mate. They can stay with me to keep them accommodated, I'll do whatever I can I don't care. My house is their house.

five families. At the moment I know we can handle Christmas presents, They've lost their they lost everything - and that's it. with what they came here with they walked out of that house

have found refuge Tonight, five families in Thomas and wife Tess's home. who has lost their house? What can you give someone Shelter. We have families now with us - that's all we can give them.

people living here I still can't understand how have lost their house and still in a good frame of mind. He isn't rich - his house is no mansion and other bare essentials, but without electricity, water a home for families like the Extons. Thomas are doing their best to make

He's organised - winds up and goes. He's always in top gear. people's houses, He's out there fixing getting their generators, so they can flush the toilet wiring them up or turn on a tap, their fridge can run. the last couple of days, He's been out just go, go, go. And where do we go from here? We're here today

in a month or three months. and I know you can't build a house the next 3 months for these people? So what's going to happen over his beloved town only hours before The fires that destroyed are still seared in his memory. When this hit us, you just went into a mode to survive where we knew we had to fight or we were going to die But we made it. Thomas has been a welcome sight, Around his ravaged neighbourhood, and much needed supplies providing rations to his neighbours in need. That will get you out of trouble. You're the best, you're the best. While basic services are weeks away, do what they can Thomas and his trusty ute of normality. to restore some semblance in my heart, I know that's what I need to do that's what I've been doing that I've been to so far, and I know all the people have been bought to tears

I've been giving them with all the stuff and a pump and whatever they need and if I can give them hot water just to hang in that house.

Thank you so much. goes beyond words - This neighbour's gratitude

two nights ago, her husband Mike's life. Thomas saved

fighting He is going to make it. He was

fighting hard at my place. He ran

out in at shorts and a T-shirt. for 6 hours Thomas kept his mate alive by submerging him in his pool their property. while fire surrounded I was so exhausted - Physically I couldn't even lift him, back to our place, got him on the back of the car, put him in the pool. Every time I go to sleep putting his hand out for help - all I see is Mike

at the moment. that's killing me a bit That's staying with me. of the fires, Still reeling from the brute force that has truly angered him. it's the actions of local looters We went to that lady's house today with that generator and got her hooked up to a meeting in Kinglake - and she told me she went they stripped her shed. by the time she got home, and take her petrol How can someone go in and all the things from her shed what we've been through? when she's gone through

If you need somewhere to go now,

there are rooms there now for you. into a makeshift caravan park, Tom hopes to turn his property and a helping hand offering a roof, food back on their feet. to get back his neighbours

within a week. I can have it happening living right here I reckon I could have 20-30 families without any trouble. Comfortably. past my wife yet, Mind you I haven't run that she'll say yes to that too. but I'm sure As for hero, I'm no hero. the people that don't have anything. They're the heroes - bloody smiling. The ones that are walking around the best I can. I'm just a family guy trying to do

on the hunt for the arsonist Last night we reported for the Churchill fire believed responsible which killed 21 people. The manhunt focused on this photo of an L-plate motorcyclist. Local teacher Cameron Tingay snapped a man as he fled the scene near where the fire started.

It's alleged a petrol can was strapped to the back of the bike. A 39-year-old man has been arrested in Churchill

and this afternoon charged with arson causing death, causing a bushfire and possessing child pornography. Out of all this heartache, one thing has arisen - overwhelming generosity. Everyone is aware that without cash, these communities have no future. So far, the national fundraising schemes have pledged almost $100 million,

with $84 million already in the kitty. And as Jonathan Creek reports, there's more to come. We grieve for the people of St Andrews and Marysville and Strathewen and Kinglake and all of the little towns throughout Victoria that have been struck so devastatingly. The events of this week will be etched into our memories for years to come. We just ask all Australians to just step up and let's try and match the courage of the victims of the fire and the survivors - just keep calling and keep giving. Our worst ever natural disaster has touched the nation. So much so, we're ignoring the tough economic times and digging deep It's been such an uplifting thing and I think our role is to mobilise the power of humanity, to get people to come forward, step up to the plate to help one another in times of crisis. Chief executive of the Red Cross, Robert Tickner. There are some powerful lessons here about the way we can move forward, living our lives and the way we operate in this country.

We can keep this spirit alive. So far, the Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Appeal has raised $84 million

but much more is needed. We're Australians, we help our mates and in the toughest times, that's when we come together. They're the biggest names in show business Far from home, but with the bushfire disaster close to their hearts. My condolences to all the families and friends

who have been touched by the tragedy of the fire and I'm here to urge you to give We're going to have our work cut out for us but we don't care, we're just going to go for it and do as much as we can. Sarah Lukas isn't rich and famous. She's a mother of two from suburban Adelaide. A survivor of the Ash Wednesday fires, the 42-year-old was determined to do something.

I'm so overwhelmed, look around, I just can't believe it. 24 hours ago this was an idea. With the help of Today Tonight, Sarah has filled two semi-trailers with food, toys and clothes. The goods were delivered to the Victorian town of Yarra Glen this afternoon. In the scheme of things, it's a small offering but it means a lot. Sarah, oh, thank you. Oh, we appreciate it. Stop work, love - stop work. Then there's Robert Finkeldey, managing director of whocando.com.au. He has a database of 15,000 tradesmen, many willing to work for free, eager to kick-start the re-building process. All you have to do is go to the website, you post the job you need doing and we will take care of the rest, we will forward the job to the relevant tradespeople who will then contact you. Painter Grant Fethers jumped at the idea. I thought, "Well, we could donate money" but probably better if I could use my services to help people instead. As a nation we're often accused of cutting down our tall poppies but in times of crisis, we rally like no other country in the world. No look I think ever since these bushfires,

this terrible tragedy that's happened, the Australian public has just been sensational. Last night, Australia united. Tonight, there's another opportunity to give when the NAB Cup Bushfire Appeal airs on Channel Seven. Viewers in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth can tune into the Western Bulldogs versus Essendon game from 8:30pm. It will air nationally on Fox Sports. AFL Chief Andrew Demetriou says every cent raised from tonight's game will go to the Bushfire Appeal. The fact we can raise money through the game the gate

then through the telethon and through people ringing and donating after last night will be a terrific thing. And there's more fundraising to come. Iconic music promoter Michael Gudinski is organising concerts in Sydney and Melbourne, with Kylie Minogue rumoured to be the headline act.

Even Andre Rieu will donate proceeds from a new song. Our hearts go out to the families that are dealing with the loss of loved ones and having to rebuild their lives again.

For many, the physical and mental scars of this tragedy will last a lifetime but the kindness and generosity of strangers will go along way to repairing the broken hearts.

So please, dig deep into your pockets

and let's help each other. And all those charities helping the bushfire victims can be found on our website. The bushfires have not only devastated lives, they've destroyed much of the environment - the most immediate concern is toxic drinking water. Many of the fires raged near the catchment regions

Once the smoke clears, drinking water quality could be an issue. If the fire were to kill half the trees, it could result in a reduced water supply of about 20% for the following 50 years. In the wake of an inferno

which wreaked havoc across 450,000 hectares, there could be another problem - toxic drinking water. Bushfires remove the vegetation and expose the soil to the erosive power of rainstorms. All of Victoria's main catchment areas are in or near bushfire-affected regions. It's feared ash and retardant chemicals will be washed into the dams with the first big rainfall.

What we need to do is use the best science available to guide the remediation effort, so that involves the kind of hill-slope treatments

that we put in place to prevent erosion. In a State already struggling with historically low water supplies, Melbourne University scientist Dr Paul Feikema says supply is an issue. When a forest is killed by a fire or by any disturbance and as it regrows, it uses more water than what the forest did prior to the disturbance. Melbourne's largest catchment, the Thompson Dam just below us, is under threat with two fires approaching from Kinglake and Bunyip. If the northerly winds return tomorrow and thosefires merge, it's could affect the city's main water supply. At the very least, if the fires don't reach the dam and merely destroy only half the trees,

it could still reduce water supply in the already drought-ravaged dam.

And it's a long term issue - as vegetation is removed or killed within a catchment, as it regrows, it uses more water - that effect can go on for 100 or 150 years. They use more water than what the older vegetation did prior to the fire. The 2003 Canberra bushfires caused major water quality problems in the Cotter River catchment

and because it wasn't addressed quickly, much of water is still poor.

As the storages are drawn down, we don't have sufficient resources to recover them, hence we need a north-south pipeline and we need a desalination plant. Professor John Langford says Melbourne won't have anywhere near as many problems as Canberra, so long as Melbourne Water continue to consider other water options.

But that isn't the only environmental concern - it's been revealed carbon emissions created by the bushfires are the equivalent to almost an entire year of Australia's industrial emissions. If fires become much more frequent, there'll be less opportunity for the regrowing forest to take the carbon up.

There's little known about the bushfires' effect on flora and fauna.

Wildlife Victoria estimates more than 10,000 native animals were killed.

The lucky ones are receiving treatment in makeshift animal shelters. Yet, again, we'll be in the hands of the weather this weekend. Not just here in Victoria, but around the country. Coming up, a long-range look at what's in store.

Everyone wants to know, is it over? So tonight, we ask the experts. Already, we're being warned the extreme temperatures in the south-east of Australia and the wild, wet weather in North Queensland

will become commonplace. Here's Bryan Seymour with a look at how the experts predicted the wildfires we've just witnessed and what they say will happen next. As early as last november, we were warned. The signs are that this summer coming up ought to be a much warmer one than the one we saw last year. The forecasters were right - frightenly so. Even down to the areas likely to be hit with severe bushfires. Remember, this was three months ago. Now, have we learnt to listen? Going by our latest seasonal outlook which is based on the temperatures in the Indian Ocean and also in the Pacific Ocean, we are looking at an increased chance of above-average temperatures through eastern Australia. Here's a snapshot of the eastern States

in the near future. While Brisbane is setting in for the wet weekend ahead, things are looking worse for the State's flood-hit Far North, with Ingham, Cairns, Townsville all in for 30-degree days, rains and thunderstorms for at least the next week.

In Sydney, which saw temperatures hit the high 30s, it's a wet week ahead, with 20 to 25-degree days until at least next Thursday before things start to get warmer again.

The city's west, which was seen as a potential fire danger zone last week, with temperatures topping 44 degrees, will be wet until Wednesday when we will see showers and temperatures again hitting thirty. Melbourne, which has been punished by severe heat since the start of summer

will continue to nudge 30. Showers are due on Monday, albeit a brief respite before thunderstorms then high heat returns by the end of next week. There's always the chance that we'll get some more heat but we're really getting past that hottest time of the year, but only just. In the fire-affected areas north-east of Melbourne, high wind warnings for the devastated Kinglake. Thunderstorms and temperatures again up to 30 by Wednesday.

The burnt towns of Marysville, Yea and Churchill can expect similar conditions. For the coming three months, temperatures do look like they have a good chance of being above average through particularly Queensland but also through parts of New South Wales and into Victoria and Tasmania. Climate analysis and prediction expert Dr Andrew Watkins from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology says

South Australia and Western Australia especially

We can't actually say that any particular heatwave is due to climate change but we have to be realistic about this and this is a typical sort of thing or thing that is quite possible with climate change. And this was climate change expert David Jones, two days before Black Saturday. 43 degrees in Melbourne, very dangerous fire weather conditions coming up, perhaps some of the most severe fire weather we've had in decades.

In fact, the most severe ever, which highlights the other worrying trend here - the forecasters are almost unwaveringly right and they nearly all agree - it's getting hotter, more frequently, more ferociously.

What a difference a week makes.

Back in a moment.

Tomorrow, it'll be a week since the fires started. Back then, nobody could have imagined the horror that was to come. Even now, this disaster is far from over. We leave you now with some of the moments we will never forget. I'm Matt White. See you next week - goodnight

Can you believe you are alive?

Can you believe you are alive? Not

really. At there was absolutely no warning.

This Fire was moving 25 km/h. This is the

is the worst natural disaster ever

is the worst natural disaster ever

to affect and Australia. It has

shaken the nation to the core. shaken the nation to the core. shaken the nation to the core. It is terrifying. The house is

The house is gone, it shed is gone. People are dying here. And a

And a royal commission is a good

idea. Everything will be open to

scrutiny. Some of these fires were

lit by an arsonist. Lock them up or

hang them. This is a serious

investigation and we know many are

concerned about this arson. Always say

say to the banks is please

reconsider your exit fees. It is not

over yet. Not by a long shot. Shed a

few tears. This is all that is left.

This is about all

This is about all that is left. We

have lost everything. These

communities will be repealed, it

will take time but we will see this

through. At every single dollar back through. At every single dollar back

goes into this appeal will be held to

to help - will be used to help the

to help - will be used to help the individuals and communities. I am so

proud of the Australian people. They

are incredible.