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Seven Morning News -

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(generated from captions) This program is captioned live. This morning - firefighters rush
to control bushfires before the weekend heatwave.

As police in Melbourne
hunt a serial arsonist.

And dozens of ferry passengers hurt
in a New York accident.

Seven News morning edition with Talitha Cummins. Good morning. Firefighters across the country
are still working to bring a number of bushfires
under control before extreme weather conditions
return tomorrow. There are still more than 120 fires
burning across New South Wales. 18 are out of control. Cooler conditions are helping crews
tackling some of the worst blazes and a bushfire at Lithgow
is no longer a threat. In Victoria, serial arsonists
have struck again in Melbourne. Police believe they're responsible
for at least six fires. All major bushfires across
the state are under control but authorities are warning people
to stay vigilant. In Queensland, bushfires on Bribie Island
are under control for now, but dangerous fire conditions
will remain for the next few days. And Tasmanian authorities
are confident no-one lost their lives
in their bushfire disaster. Evacuated residents
should be allowed home soon. First to Victoria where police and firefighters
are hunting arsonists responsible for a series
of deliberately lit fires across Melbourne. Some of them were started on the state's most destructive
fire day since Black Saturday. Laurel Irving is in Melbourne. Good morning, Laurel. Authorities believe
they're hunting serial arsonists?

Good morning, Talitha, they do. Look, in all six fires have been lit in this area of Melbourne's north west over the past two days. Now, the three fires lit last night didn't cause extensive damage but they did get into a timber storage yard. They burnt out a couple of cars and they set some tyres alight. Police do now believe they are hunting a serial arsonist, it could be so much worse and we saw with the fires lit on Tuesday night, that some of those blazes did come dangerously close to homes. With so much of the state now so incredibly dry, for many, the idea that somebody is out there deliberately lighting fires is simply

Nobody in their right mind lights fires when it's like this. P These people should get locked up or something, you know, get out of the streets, you know. Because it's no good. Now the big worry for authorities is tomorrow when Melbourne and much of Victoria returns to high fire danger days. We have temperatures expected to hit the high 30s and early 40s and of course any deliberately lit fires in those conditions are likely to cause much more damage and impact on homes and businesses. So police are urging if anybody does have any idea who these people are, to please contact them immediately. Let he contact them immediately. Let's hope they find them soon. Thank you,

Still in Victoria - the state's
alert system will be reviewed after residents
near Ballarat complained they had no warning of a fire
which destroyed nine homes. The blaze has now been contained,
as Nick Etchells reports.

Talitha, with much cooler
conditions today, the immediate fire danger has passed but it's a little too late for the nine families
who have lost their homes here. This fire was a little different
to the ones we've seen interstate. It was a grassfire, not a bushfire and it was started by a car,
they believe, in a paddock and it's just taken up and run. That meant there was a lot less
warning than there has been in similar fires interstate where authorities were able
to keep track of these bushfires. There has also been some controversy
with residents here saying they either didn't receive texts
warning them of a fire or they received texts
up to a couple of hours after the fire had passed. The State Government
will be looking into that. They're saying that
by and large this system worked well and, of course, this was
an unusual fire in its speed. So we'll wait to see what they say
about that system. Coming up, we have got another
hot day tomorrow, in the mid 30s, and for the next few weeks, there's no rain forecast
and quite a number of hot days so you'd like to say that there
will be no more fires like this for the rest of the summer but it seems like
there are some conditions ahead that make that a possibility. So Victoria will be on alert again.

Now to New South Wales and Seven's Hugh Whitfeld is at
the scene of a bushfire at Lithgow, which came close to homes yesterday. Good morning, Hugh.
How's it looking this morning?

Good morning, Talitha, well the good news is that it is much cooler here today. The temperature is still less today. The temperature is still les than 20 degrees. We have had a bit ofdrizzle overnight and it's quite overcast today. Last night there was what has been described to me a highly successful back burning operation. Cameron ma, Tim and I have spent several hours with firefighters, as they carried out this controlled burn. They light two fire fronts which met in the middle. That meant that much of the bushland that wasn't already burned by the that wasn't already burned by out of control fire yesterday was burnt out. They brought the fire right up close to homes and roads. If this fire is sparked up again, it has no where to go. Remembering that this fire, police believe was started by arsonists. They have had detectives on the scene today as they carry out the hunt for the person who lit this fire. The contained nature of this fire now, it is under control and the cooler temperatures today mean that there is some relief for crews. Today, we will concentrate on mopping up and dealing with some of those hot spots within the fire ground.

We've got predicted warmer weather
on the weekend, getting into severe on Saturday so we need to really make sure
we've got this fire very secure.

And it is a similar story across southern New South Wales where there are still many fires, some of them burning out of control. There are at least 128 fires still burning across New South Wales. 18 remain uncontained in these cooler temperatures today will allow firefighters across the state to get the upper hand on some of those blazes before the predicted change in weather again tomorrow. That is what everyone is concerned about, the return potentially to 40 plus temperatures. Now, so far across New South Wales, nearly 370,000 hectares of land has been burnt out and some nervous days ahead, Taligha Certainly are, thank you,

In Queensland, firefighters
have spent the night strengthening containment lines around a bushfire
on Bribie Island. The fire came within a few hundred
metres of homes yesterday but no property was lost. Camping grounds on the island
remain closed. Fire crews are bracing
for a warm day across the state, which temperatures forecast to climb
past 40 degrees in the west. Thunderstorms are also expected,
increasing the fire risk.

Authorities in Tasmania
are now confident no-one died in the bushfires which all but destroyed
the town of Dunalley. Residents will probably be allowed
back in to the town from tomorrow. Many still haven't been able to see
what's left of their homes. There are concerns
for the town's animals, left to fend for themselves
during the blaze. The number of homes lost across the
state has now been revised to 152.

Residents affected by
the New South Wales bushfires will be able to receive
financial assistance from the federal and state
governments. People living in 37 local government
areas will be eligible, including in some of the worst hit
regions such as Shoalhaven and the Yass Valley. to people whose homes and household
items have been damaged. Transport freight subsidies
are being offered to farmers who have lost more than 10,000 sheep
in the fires.

As if bushfires weren't enough - communities in Australia's
north-west have been warned to prepare
for a cyclone. Tropical Cyclone Narelle
is strengthening in the same area
as previous cyclones, some of which caused severe damage. Narelle is currently
a category 3 system. The risk is that all communities
in the west Pilbara region should be prepared for, at least, the approach of a very dangerous
and intense tropical cyclone.

Police on the New South Wales
north coast are investigating the drowning of
one man and the shooting of another after a fight between bystanders
on the beach. Officers were called to
Woolgoolga beach yesterday afternoon where a 57-year-old man had drowned. An hour later, a 32-year-old man
was shot in the side of the head as he drove home from the beach. What's happened there is a male person has been shot
through the window of his vehicle. The victim is in a stable condition. Police say
the two men knew each other but the shooting was not related
to the drowning. To the US now, where dozens
of people have been hurt in a ferry accident in New York. US bureau chief Mike Amor
joins me now. Hello, Mike. What happened?

Well, this was a morning commuter ferry, pulling into Manhattan, can you see the gash in the Hull, showing just how hard it hit the war of. 270 passengers were about to get off. The dock was left stwun with 70 injured, two were taken to hospital with critical head injuries. The crew thought the ferry was sinking. Transport investigation ors are still on the scene to try and work out what caused the crash. One of the reasons they were so injured, the commuters were standing or walking towards the exit, keen to get off and get to work. They were thrown into the air or down stairwells. Let's listen. People get up to get off the boat. That is what the problem was, when we hit the dock, everyone went flying. I was six feet in the air. I woke up from being knocked out. They thought they were going to take water on. The captain was yelling very fast, get help, they thought they were going down. New York has a history of ferry crashes, May 2010, when the Staten Island ferry, struck a peer and ten years ago, 11 were killed in another similar crash. So there is a pattern to this, TalighaOK, thank you, Mike.

Next in Seven News -
a look at the bushfires from above. Business and finance. Also, Oscars whispers intensify as Hugh Jackman's 'Les Mis'

A man has drowned in a river following a police chase
in Sydney's west. He was a passenger in a taxi and ran
off when police pulled the car over. A female passenger also fled. The man jumped
into the Parramatta River where his body was found
a short time later. Police have launched
a critical incident investigation.

An anti-coal activist could spend
up to a decade behind bars for circulating a fake press release that wiped $300 million off the
value of mining company Whitehaven. The Australian Securities
and Investments Commission says Jonathan Moylan could be convicted
of disseminating false or misleading information
to the market. That carries
very substantial penalties, fines of up to nearly $500,000 and a potential term of imprisonment
of up to 10 years. Whitehaven has since
recovered the losses. To finance now and joining me is Martin Lakos
from Macquarie Private Wealth. Good morning, Martin. The rising Australian market seems to be ignoring the
deteriorating economic environment?

Yes, indeed, good morning, despite 1. Yes, indeed, good morning, despite 1.75% of occasion cash cut rates from the Reserve Bank, we have seen that jobs data, jobs growth is down 6% quarter on quarter and the 6% quarter on quarter and the latest retail sales down again, ahead of Christmas. Despite that the Aussie market is rallying quite strongly on the back of global growth, improvements and also we are starting to see some valuations, really running ahead of themselves, so we are a little concerned the Aussie market may be running ahead of

So how is our market trading
this morning?

We are flat to down, we are down a couple of points, we have got the energy and material sectors, down a bit weaker. That's following better news overnight on US earnings. US markets up along with European markets. There thank you,

Australian actor Hugh Jackman
has been nominated for Best Actor by the British Academy Film Awards, for his role in the musical film
'Les Miserables'. Where is your child?

'Les Mis' is up for a total
of nine BAFTAs. Hugh is also considered
to be a hot contender to take out an Oscar
for his performance. The nominees for this year's
Academy Awards will be announced
early tomorrow morning. Next in Seven News -
details of a widening rift between Bernard Tomic
and Aussie tennis great Pat Rafter. And an electrifying performance
in the Big Bash as Alex Hales put the Sydney Sixers
to the sword.

WOMAN: We do more
than just health insurance. Members with
Medibank hospital cover have the support of our
24/7 Health Advice Line, so they can
call on a nurse any time. From sickness and in health
and everything in between.

(SINGS) # Mmm... #
MAN: Can we just go again?

# I've been going through
the motions # Going to put it all
on the line... # I knew I needed to lose weight, but some days feel like
a mini marathon, and other days,
I just don't want to miss out. That's why
I went with Weight Watchers. It's made for every day
and it's already working. I'm a stronger me every day. New Weight Watchers 360.

Here's Gazza the ambo
who's pulled an all-nighter.

Gordo and Sonny working offsite. Making plans for Saturday night. Back from the Murray
are Hoddy and Vinnie, with pav McFlurries Hawko and Simmo in a ute
that's chockas. Best behaviour, fellas.
These two are coppers.

Yep, there's Jimbos and Bennos
and Raches and Ackas, but there's only one place on earth where you can get Macca's. So enjoy the new Aussie range today.

Bernard Tomic has revealed
he's not on speaking terms with Australia's Davis Cup captain
Pat Rafter. After downing Florian Meyer to advance to the Apia International
Sydney quarterfinals, Tomic admitted he won't be making
contact with Rafter until September. It's clear the 20-year-old is angry at being dumped
from next month's clash with Taiwan. I spoke to him. I was very clear. I don't think we'll be
in contact till September. Um, and from there, we'll see. That's all I can say. Lleyton Hewitt says
Rafter's frustrated with Tomic for refusing
to make himself available for the following tie in April.

Our coverage of the Kooyong Classic
and Apia International Sydney is live now over on 7TWO. Hewitt's back in action at Kooyong, and then it's the women's semifinals
from Sydney. Tomic headlines the night session.

An incredible Big Bash League debut from Melbourne Renegades
recruit Alex Hales has ended
the Sydney Sixes' title defence. Just hours after stepping off
a long-haul flight from the UK, Hales produced a devastating display
of power-hitting. He clubbed 8 sixes in an electrifying innings
of 89 from 52 balls. The Englishman hammered eight sixes, four coming
from one Stephen O'Keefe over. Not surprisingly,
he's now rather fond of the SCG. COMMENTATOR: That is huge.
That's the biggest one tonight. On the roof! I think it's my favourite ground
now, definitely. It's a hell of a ground. I have always dreamed of playing
the big grounds in Australia. I'm really happy with how I went. Hales' heroics powered the Renegades
to 5/178, setting up a comfortable 29-run win
for the visitors. Chelsea faces an uphill battle to reach the final of
the English football's League Cup after losing to Swansea
at Stamford Bridge this morning. The Blues paid the price for
some catastrophic defensive errors. COMMENTATOR: And Swansea,
against all expectation and very much
against the run of play,

have taken the lead.

The Swans pounced on a sloppy
back pass to seal a 2-0 win,

giving them a handy cushion heading
into the semifinal return leg. Fremantle Dockers midfielder
Anthony Morabito is set to miss
his third straight AFL season following confirmation he requires
a third knee reconstruction. The 21-year-old re-injured
his left knee but the Dockers insist
he's still in their long-term plans.

I don't think anything changes with Anthony or the future that he has got moving forward. We still have high hopes for him and we will work through for the best for Anthony. He is the number one priority.

There's speculation the Dockers
may consider radical LARS surgery in a bid to revive
the talented midfielder's career.

US talk show queen Oprah Winfrey
insists no question will be off limits when she interviews Lance Armstrong
next week.

There's growing speculation
he'll confess to having doped during his seven straight
Tour de France victories. The latest allegation levelled
at Armstrong is that he offered to donate
around $250,000 to the US Anti-Doping Association
while under investigation. We had no hesitation
in rejecting that offer. There are concerns
any more explosive revelations will overshadow this month's
Tour Down Under in Adelaide. Black Caviar's racetrack return
may have to be put on hold due to massive weight gain. During a 6-month spell,
the world's best sprinter ballooned to around 30 kilos
above her racing weight. It's unclear
whether she'll regain full fitness in time to start
in next month's Lightning Stakes. The 6-year-old's so big, she can't fit into that famous
compression suit she wore on the trip to Royal Ascot
last year. Stay with me here
on Seven's Morning News. I'll be back with all the weather
details after this break.

Pretty much just like any other guy
our age, Wes loved being outside and hanging out with his mates. And he'd never go to the beach
intending to get a tan. When Wes was 23, he found a mole on his neck
which turned out to be melanoma. That was cut out, but the melanoma had spread
into his bloodstream and formed a tumour on his brain. (VOICE BREAKS) Yeah, it's tough
without him.

Seven News
is now on your iPhone and iPad so you'll never be out of touch. Australia's number one news
is just a tap away. Air cranes -
or water-bombing helicopters - are brought in to Australia
every summer from the US, to join the fight against bushfires. Seven News has been given exclusive
access to sky crane 'Camille', in action over a blaze at Goulburn. Georgina McKerrow has more.

Cam ill is one of our main fire fighting machines outside here. The aircraft was deploids here when a fire sparked up in dense bushland. The aircrane's 9, The aircrane's 9,600 water capacity means they can drop huge amounts of water, accurately and quickly, given firefighters on the ground the help they need from the air. She really is the eye in the sky this summer. When spot fires started through the rugged terrain, she filled up in a dam, her snorkel taking massive gulps of water, around 8,000 litres every time. The aerial attack continued through a smokey sunset and she was back up again this morning, making sure this fire was under control before temperatures sore over the next few days. It is so thick out there that you couldn't get crews in there or the steepness of the terrain, so, helicopters are very effective when it comes to that. At 40 years old, she is a veteran but she is also an asset and an investment in helping protect lives and properties this summer.

Checking today's weather - category 3 severe
Tropical Cyclone Narelle is tracking southwest
towards WA's Pilbara coast. A broad trough over the east
and north is causing hot northerly winds
and a few storms. A high over the Bight is clearing
showers from southern Tasmania. Around the capitals - Brisbane, a possible
shower or storm. Sydney's expecting
a cloudy 24. Becoming sunny
in Canberra. Hobart will
reach 24. Melbourne,
mostly sunny. Sunny in

Perth, dry
with a top of 27. Showers and a possible storm
in Darwin.

And that's Seven News to now. We'll keep you up to date
throughout the day and in our bulletins at 4:30
and tonight at 6:00. I'm Talitha Cummins. Thanks for your company.
See you soon. Supertext captions by
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