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Tonight - unbearable pain and loss. Homes, lives and entire communities lay in ruin. These bushfires have been the most brutal imaginable. There's one victim so far but we've been warned to expect more. Shattered families are already picking through the ashes. Searching for hope and answers. We're live and have extended coverage of the disaster that has stopped the state in its tracks.

Good evening. We're coming to you live from the Blue Mountains tonight. I'm at Winmalee, or what's left of it. Right here where there are homes in ashes amid despair and devastation. We're not alone. The heartbreak and anxiety from the deadly and devastating 36 hours stretches north to the Central Coast and south to the Southern Highlands. We'll have comprehensive coverage of all of them in this special 90-minute edition. This is Walter Linder. He died fighting hammer and tongs to save his home on beautiful Lake Munmorah at the northern end of the Central Coast. We'll have his brave story in just a moment. But we're going to start here in the Blue Mountains which has been cut deep, too deep. There are ruined homes as far as the eye can see. Some say it will be hundreds lost. No-one knows for sure just yet. They're still counting. Everywhere there are stories of loss and lives that are in ruins. It's a community that's been drained of its spirit and robbed of its hope. I'm here tonight with a full crew covering the fires. We'll check in with all of them throughout tonight's bulletin. Mazoe, it's easy to see why these are our worst fires we've seen here in NSW in a decade? Indeed it is. I was up here last night and have been here all day today and there are very upsetting scenes indeed. I'm going to show you behind me where the fire came up the hill. You can see the blackened bush behind me. Just below it there is a house where the roof has been lifted right off by the force of the fire. There's nothing left of that, just the shell of the house. Next door the roof is still there but it's a crumpled mess in on itself. Both of those homes will have to be destroyed. If only I could show you all the way down the street because it is one after the other. Every now and again there's a home on this side of the street that's been spared. Otherwise it's a row of houses that will have to be destroyed. For all the devastation we've seen up here today and all the people I've met, they're coping remarkably well.This is my neighbour's house burning.It only took a few minutes for flames to swallow Michael and Chris Leonard's dream home. They had every sprinkler on inside and every available hose spraying the outside but how do you stop this?Five houses around me are gone now. Total devastation. For me to have my husband here, we are lucky. Michael and Chris only moved in three months ago. They proudly took these pictures of their beautiful mountain home on their iPhone. It is all they managed to save before they hitched a ride out of town with a neighbour.We couldn't see where we were going. It was raining. This family home was destroyed too. Amazingly, I went into the hallway and these two lots of photos of the kids when they were young and these were sitting on the wall in the hallway.Fantastic.And the whole roof has come in. It's untouched. And a painting of our dear old aunt who lives in a retirement home. She painted that. That was on the wall over here. Everything else burnt down around it.Across the road, Jean Has lost everything but the shed.If I found my house like this, I'd be devastated. But because we got out with our lives it's a completely different perspective. The most striking thing about these fires is just how indiscrimt they've been and the random paths they've taken through the bush. You can see the roof has imploded and the corrugated iron in there looks like it's melted in half. Outside the house here you can see a garden hose as though the homeowner stayed as long as they possibly could. Just next door you can see that house is absolutely fine. Some Blue Mountains locals aren't allowed home yet and it's a tense wait for news.We're fine. We've got each other. We can start again if it's gone.Others were allowed in briefly to rescue pets.He was down by the dams in some muddy water. Just laying low. Got a bit of a burn on. She will be right. Everyone you talk to up here as a story to tell. Everything for the big day was here inside her parents' house.We have lost wedding dress, bridesmaids dress, the tuxes, the table settings and all of that sort of stuff. Everything.Nova radio listeners came to the rescue with replacements for everything. After these dark days, a white wedding is just what this community needs. It is important to stress that the fire situation in this area in Winmalee is not yet over. We know there is a fire burning around two kilometres away according to the Rural Fire Service website and the app on the mobile phone is a good thing to have a look at. We've heard water bombers all afternoon. So still very much a situation that is evolving. It sure is. Thank you. As I mentioned earlier, there was misery all around here. Gorgi has been speaking with some heartbroken residents, including a man who has come to symbolise the spirit and the courage of these people in the blackened hills. Winmalee has been devoured. Without warning and seemingly at random, houses and streets ravaged by fire. Like so many of their neighbours, this family has lost everything. Frplgt 40 odd years of life, photos --40 odd years of life, photos.Photos of them when they're babies. Everything. Things that can't be replaced. Furniture is fine.The 11-year-old's possessions all now gone.There was no floor and the matresses on the ground shriveled up.Adam lives next door caring for his mother. We watched in disbelief as he dashed inside his burning home to save whatever he could. Forget it. Time to leave.He returned today knowing there would be nothing left. But grateful he survived the ordeal.The smoke was so intense and dark that I couldn't see anything. It was pitch black and impossible to breathe. I took one breath accidentally inside and sort of choked a bit.Peter Moore spent 19 years building this home. It was an oasis for him and his family.There was a balcony over there in the corner. It was beautiful sitting out there in the afternoon after work.Homes and possessions have been burned to the ground but among the ashes community spirit is being built.A neighbour has gone down the street at the moment and she is collecting clothes for one of my sons and daughters so they have clothes to wear for the next few weeks.Most of the damage here was, in fact, done last night. It must have been something to see.Well, it was really awful to see. Every street we turned down last night there were homes burnt to the ground and homes that were still burning because firefighters just had to leave them because there were bigger, more important jobs to get to. There were homes to save. They had to leave the homes that couldn't be saved. As we drove down the streets last night we came across homes that appeared to have escaped the main blaze but were starting to smoke and eventually caught alight, we think buzz of an ember that had been smouldering away for hour -- because of an ember that had been away for hours. Conditions did ease overnight. The temperature dropped right off. The winds eased. As a result the warning alert level was downgraded today. But that situation soon changed again and the emergency warning level alert was reactivated. Because of the blaze that's re-erimented in Springwood. -- re-erupted in Springwood. We can hear hell ewanters waterbombing the fire. -- helicopters waterbombing the fire. Students at Springwood High were evacuated today. Thankfully students weren't at school at St Columbus. That school could come under ember attack later on. In Winmalee we have a large number of people coming and going, picking up what they can from the rubble. I spoke to one woman who was about to get clothes from her house that's still standing. She's staying with friends on the other side of Springwood knowing their house might come under threat in a couple of days. That's what it's like up here in the mountains right now. The devastation has continued in Mount Victoria, just outside Lithgow. An entire street has been torn apart by another relentless blaze. Resident who packed up and cleared out to escape the fire have returned home -- residents who packed up and cleared out to escape the fire have returned home. A new day and more devastation.It's one I'll never forget.Mount Victoria residents returning to face Mother Nature's cruelty. Greeted by scorched shells and flattened dreams. Allan Kessing tried to fight the blaze but had to run before the turned deadly.I had to stand there and watch the hois go. It was unbelievable. I only finished it a week before Christmas. Brand new house with my entire life savings.Today St Georges Parade is a charred mess. Upwards of 10 homes burnt to the ground.It is just awful. The house is gone.Margaret Gough's home is still standing. Devastating. Nothing has been saved. We thought we might find a little miracle.This is just one stark and tragic example of the devastation that has engulfed this small knit Blue Mountains community. Homes and belongings destroyed, lives ruined. There would be little relief over the weekend with stron winds continuing to fan uncontained blazes.. It was a difficult 24 hours. The --It was a difficult 24 hours. The bad news is there is still continued threats to property. Michael Reeson helped his daughter's family from this home just minutes before the fire engulfed this whole area.It is devastating and it came up the gully that quick that no-one had much of a chance to do anything. It's just awful.Residents of this Blue Mountains street knew they were in for a fight. They tried to stay but regular hazard reduction was never going to be enough. This blaze which originally started at Lithgow has so far ripped through 24,000 hectares and is still burning. It was the worst-case scenario for fire and rescue teams from the Central Coast. They spent the night fighting dozens of fires in the area. Walter Linder died trying to defend his home from the flames. The property Walter Linder died trying to protect is still smouldering. The 63-year-old drafrtsman was fighting a fire edging towards his -- draftsman was fighting a fire edgeing towards his home. They had never come this close.The wind was blowing everywhere. He refused to leave. He didn't want to leave his house.His friend found him slumped over at the back of his property. Paramedics tried to save him but it was too late.He walked his dog each morning past here and it's very sad.The exact cause of death hasn't been confirmed. There was more heartbreak at nearby Catherine Hill Bay. No lives were lost, only a lifetime of memories. The danger isn't over yet. There's fears more could be lost. Fires like this continue to spark up throughout the day. Just a bit of wind can make this situation serious. Firies simply can't be at every scene. Those who spent the night invy vacuation centres and still can't get -- in evacuation centres and still can't get home don't know what's in store. All they can do is wait while firefighters have to keep guessing. The wind has died down but the blazes are still frighteningly unpredictable. Residents here facing another sleepless night, the only comfort is brave firefighters out there fighting for them.They're doing a marvellous job. They really are. We really appreciate it.Hopefully there's some relief for them soon. There is some relief for communities in the Southern Highlands which despite the flames raging right up to the doorsteps, somehow they matched to escape relatively unscathed. The fire started on the outskirts of Balmoral, before skirting past Yanderra. Residents were told to head toBeringo before the fire went in that direction. Andre Mondon would be forgiven for thinking he has rotten luck but he says it's the opposite. He suffered some of the worst damage from the Southern Highlands' blaze but the way this 59-year-old sees it, he's still standing and so is his house.What can I do? I'm alive for my kids to see me. I've just got to go on with it.Six of his cars were reduced to wrecks, including his passion. And a caravan he had converted into a karaoke studio.1960s Tonka.There were some moments of discovery. The hobbies helped him overcome a bout of depression a few years back. This is your life and passion?Yeah. It's all gone?All gone.What do you think when you're sitting here looking at it?What can I say? It's hurting me. I'm just lost.Andre knows how lucky he is, along with his Yanderra neighbours they were given five minutes to get out as the blaze bore down on their little community.I thought it was game over.Luck and the relentless work of firefighters managed to save their homes. Behind me it's been completely wiped out. Just beyond the fence line, you'd bearically know a fire has passed -- barely know a fire has passed through.I'm so lucky. All the back fence is ruined and all this is just scrub. The south-westerly change started to push that fire up towards those townships and through some really good work of firefighters and previous hazard reductions that that actually slowed down the impact.Neighbouring Bargo was also spared. The fire is now ripping through a national park.We're just packing the car.I've never experienced anything like this. It's a bit scary.Firefighters are tonight making the most of cooler conditions to create containment lines and back-burn. Let's cross to Tim Bailey now. Live from heartbreak, unfortunately.This is number 9 Winmalee. It was. Yesterday it was 34 degrees here. 85 kilometres an hour of hot north- westerly winds. This was a victim of fierce ember attack and just bekim a firebomb. Six houses from the left to the right all just disintegrating. I found this in Munce the rubble. Grandparent and grandchildren were in that house down there with their parent. The good news is everyone survived. The heat, though, you can see the devastation behind me. The letterbox simply melting away. The conditions here at the moment are easing at Winmalee. There's the sun up in the sky. The good news is, temperatures that were 34 degrees here yesterday are now down to 18 degrees. We have light east-north- east wind, quite benign temperatures. We'll have another day like that tomorrow. Probably a 24-hour window to be able to get these fires under control before the fire danger comes ferociously at us again on Sunday and Monday. Temperatures expected to soar to 35 to 37 degrees right here at Winmalee in the west of Sydney. And the good news is the winds aren't going to be as ferocious as yesterday. A cold front will move from the west of the state through on Monday and we'll hopefully have shower activity out of that. A 24- hour window of benign conditions. Look at this. You'll never whinge again if you come and see this. Indeed. Thank you. Just a reminder this is a special 90-minute edition of Ten Eyewitness News. When we come back we'll have more on these devastating bushfires.

Welcome back to this special edition of Ten Eyewitness News. Right now hovering above with the latest on Sydney traffic is Vic. These fires causing problems tonight also on the Hume Highway you have important messages too? We're here at the end of the Hume Highway on the M5. I'm moving the cameraback a little bit to show you this fire we've been reporting on that's burning out towards Bargo. You can see it in the distance. This fire you are witnessing with this wind blowing, authorities are quite hesitant I'm told to close the Hume Highway. They're possibly going to have to in the next 30 minutes as the fire is getting up very, very close to the Hume Highway. Obviously a weekend away with a lot of traffic here trying to get down towards the Southern Highlands could mean major problems for commuters tonight. If they do close the Hume Highway, there will be diversion points through Picton or the Illawarra Highway.Thank you. Let's go now to Ali. She's been keeping an eye on things at the Rural Fire Service headquarters. How are things looking there right now? Please tell us there's good news.I can tell you we have more than 1,500 firefighters in the field. The good news is if you look on the boards behind us, this is how they control everything from this centre, there's only yellow and blue lines on that screen. The red line represents critical incidents. They had huge problems in Springwood and the red critical line has dropped off now. They had students barricaded in there when the fire took hold and threatened the high school. From here they got critical strike forces up to them to keep them safe. Now, we're told at the moment there are 92 fires still burning, up to 30 of those are out of control. With cooler conditions coming in tonight, they're getting troops from this area to start back-burning. They're asking people to keep off the roads in those areas through the Blue Mountains so they can fight back on these fires.Important advice. Thank you. Well, I've spent the afternoon at Winmalee. I met a family a short time ago. They're one of hundreds of residents who have lost everything. We found you guys wandering up on the street looking pretty distressed.We're just, our house is no longer a house, it is just ash and rubble and it's just gone.We knew our neighbour's house was on fire. This is all we could get. Some things in the backyard.You were here yesterday. What was it like?I've never, I've never been so scared in all my life. My head is not here. I'm just in limbo. I'm just blank. Just blank. I don't know, where do you go? I'm trying to pick up the pieces.I'm sure you're going to give your kids a big hug? Absolutely. I've given them lots of hugs already.We wish you the best of luck.Thank you very much.Our thoughts are with them and so many families here in the Blue Mountains. It's a tough day for everyone you meet. Understanding and hearing their stories.Their spirit is resonating. They've been up and down and in and out of these ruins all day long. If there's one things Australians are good at, it's coping with adversity and putting their arms around each other. There's been a lot of that going on. We have been talking about heat records for months right across Australia and you just now understand when we say fire danger day, they are daifrperous days. This is what they do. They devastate. Look at this home, totally and absolutely firebombed. Easing conditions right now. Easterly winds around 22 kilometres an hour, even dropper lighter than that in the next 24 hours. Temperatures in the mid-20s which will help fires. There's moisture in the air at 48%. Next dangerous set of days - Saturday night, probably into Sunday and Monday - 35 to 37 degrees as another hot north-west change comes before a westerly cold change on Monday. So a 24-hour window to get the fires under control. That's where we're at right here live from Winmalee. Thank you. Whether we come back, we'll have the rest of the day's news. -- when we come back, we'll have the rest of the day's news. More on this dark and deadly day in NSW.

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Overseas now. The Australian Government officials have arrived at the site of the plane crash that killed 49 people in Central Asia, including six Australians. The plane plungeed into the Mekong River during a wild storm as it approached an airport in southern Laos. Australian embassy officials are now helping with the recovery effort. It's believed there are no survivors. So far none of the Australian victims have been found. A political autopsy is under way in America after Congress rescued the country from the economic crisis that it created. Workers are back on the job and tourism is back in business but they face the same debt crisis in 90 days. Paying its bills and open for business, after 16 sorry days, America cast away the closed signs and tourists flooded back. The Smithsonian's Panda Cam came back to life, NASA got back to work, as did 8,000 people. The damage sinks in.Let's be clear, there are no winners here. Certainly not America's economy. While it was rescueed from the cliff's edge, the shutdown cost the US $24 billion. And that's just the damage it can measure.It's It has caused problems.A temper tantrum worth $24 billion - I don't think it's worth that?Some conservative Americans say it was, praising Republicans for the fight, even though they lost.We need a bigger slap in the face than what we got the last couple of weeks to wake up the government up.There is another one looming. The short-term bill keeps America open for 90 days, while this group of politicians tries to mesh a long-term budget. I'm not going to vote for his budget. I know he's not going to vote for mine.Confidence isn't high.

Controversial broadcaster Derryn Hinch has narrowly escaped jail but has been hit with a $100,000 fine. He could have been hit behind bars for ignoring a suppression order over the murder of Melbourne woman Jillian Meagher. Derryn Hinch on the steps of the court, a familiar enough scene for a man who's made a career from being outspoken. Thiappearance cost him dearly.They got it wrong. They got it wrong. It is a massive fine.A $100,000 fine, plus costs, for being guilty of contempt of court for the sixth time. He's got 90 days to come up with his own cash or it's off to jail for 50 days.It will hurt like hell. That's the law.Leaving home this morning with the prospect of jail hanging over his head, the usual mask of bravado was slipping. Who knows? I'm not going to prejudge it.Are you wondering where you'll be sleeping tonight? Yes.A quick city stop to pick up his lawyer and it was time to hear his fate for publishing suppressed information on his website about Jillian Meagher's killer, Adrian Bayley. The judge said:

Derryn Hinch's wallet might be lighter but that didn't stop him enjoying lunch at one of Melbourne's best restaurants. This one was on the lawyers and the food is much better than the food at prison.He said that he won't charge me for the fare.27 years ago, Hinch left this restaurant to go to jail. This time he returned knowing it wasn't his last supper. Life goes on. I'm having a good time. That's life. I wish I said that.The headline act continues. Stay with us. Still to come - we'll get another update on the fires as they stand right now. And some more terrible stories and images from this cruel and harsh day.

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Locals begin to count the cost of the fires, we will bring you all of the latest updates on the NSW fires. That's coming up.

Welcome back to this special 90- minute edition of Ten Eyewitness News. Let's go back to Ali now who has Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers with her.We've just had the first official property loss figures come in. What can you tell us?What's occurred is we've looked around 30% of the fire affected areas so far in the Springwood and Winmalee area and there's 81 homes destroyed, 37 damaged. We've still gut a lot of areas to check yet. Just because it's 30% it doesn't mean there will bethree time that amown but obviously the number will rise. What about for tonight - there are cooler conditions anding and we have reinforcements -- conditions coming and we have reinforcements coming too?Yes. We have firefighters from Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and some Queenslanders will come in to the northern part of NSW to help us there. That will help. It will give a chance for some of our fire crews who have been out for weeks to get a bit of rest. And some incident management team personnel. We will get assistance there. That will help greatly. The fire activity tonight, I anticipate it will calm down. It won't basically go away. It will still bea problem and dewill still keep popping up. Tomorrow we have to be ready for another day like today. There is a chance of the Great Western Highway being closed to allow us to do backburning tonight. -- back- burning tonight.Thank you, Rob. Thank you. Despite all the hardship and the heartache, residents of these community are sticking together and I spoke with a family a short time ago and their bravery was inspiring. 28 years and it's all gone?Yeah. It was quite a shock. It's been a pretty confronting and challenging time. Wore determined to make the most of it like everybody here can. We live in the mountains. It's a beautiful place. We're going to have to rebuild.We can't make up for some of the things we've lost - the wedding photos, everything that we had from our children through their lives.It was a shock.Yes. It started in front of our house and in five minute the whole house was gone.Tell us about that little dove?A couple of my sons started looking inside to see if there was anything. We found this little dove. It is blackened. It's a bit chipped but it's not broken. That's what we're going to be doing. We're blackened and chipped but we're going to continue on and make a go of this as a community.Doctors are warning that the dangers of the smoke haze that's hanging over Sydney right now. Smoke from the bushfires have travelled hundreds of kilometres. The air quality is poor to very poor. Paramedics have treated dozens of people for smoke- related illness, exhaustion and dehydration.If people can see smoke and smell smoke, to stay indoors, not to do any routine outdoor activities, not to do any vigorous exercise over this time. The elderly, the very young and people with asthma are at highest risk. There's some big news overseas tonight, including some prisoners' novel escape. And we'll continue with our extended coverage of the bushfire disaster. Hi. I've teamed up with BIG W to make world-class workout gear
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Thanks for joining us here on Ten and our special edition of Eyewitness News. More details on road closures, Vic, and the Hume Highway.This is a fire that authorities are concerned about for the Hume Highway. Commuters at Bargo for traffic heading south bound. We went very close up to the fire and we can understand why their concern is getting very close to the Hume Highway. Motorists travelling out of Campbelltown below me can get through. There are concerns a little later on with the Hume Highway possibly being closed into Mittagong. We've still got closures up toward the Darling Causeway.

Thank you, Vic. A nationwide manhunt is under way in the US after a daring prison escape. The two convicted murderers got away without digging a hole or cutting a single wire. Instead, they forged their own release papers. Isolated and encasing razor wire, there's no easy way out of the prison. This convicted killer set free last month after the prison received phony paperwork. An unprecedented mistake repeated only 11 days later when Charles Walker, another tried and sentenced killer, was let go. Everybody will do everything they can to make sure we apprehen these individuals.Both court orders forged the signature of the judge well-known for the high-profile Casey Anthony trial. The dodgy documents suggested both the men were represented by the same lawyer, supposedly working here.This is definitely not a law office. It looks like a classroom.Prison authorities say it's not their fault because the paperwork looked legitimate.The department followed our procedures and protocols to the letter. In this instance, the department didn't do anything wrong. What's worrying is the authorities didn't pick up on this mistake themselves. It was actually the families of the victims who raised the alarm when they received official letters letting them know these killers had been released. And they're still on the run.

Some chilling new security video has been found showing the moment terrorists entered the Nairobi Westgate Mall. Gunmen randomly shot at customers. At least 60 people died and more are still missing. Governor-General Quentin Bryce has met with the Chinese President in Beijing. They attended a welcome ceremony before the two sat down for talks inside. The Governor- General's state visit will continue over the next five days which is expected to focus on growing ties in commerce, education and culture. Prince William has reached another milestone in his royal career during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. The Duke of Cambridge was more than a little nervous about filling in for the Queen. Prince William's on a gap year of sorts but still has to put in the occasional shift at the palace. High achievers receive royal honours usually from the Queen. It was the Duke's first time in the role and he had a high-profile Hawnry -- honoray -- high-profile person to honour.He seems to handle everything incredibly well. Murray was stopped for a random drug test before leaving home. Despite the Prips's own concerns about pricking someone with a pin, -- -- Prince's own concerns about pricking someone with a pin, he did a great job. The royal representative has to stand for more than an hour in in --. While the Duke got a taste of his future, his little brother am joyed a far more less formal activity. A game of rugby with young players and former greats. Sometimes it's good not to be the future king. Stay with us - all your Friday night sport is still ahead. When we come back, we'll have more from the blackened Blue Mountains.

You are watching 10 eyewitness News. We have some breaking news on these bushfires. The speeches are just in an based sure a blaze flaring at Mount Victoria. More homes are burning as we speak. Just repeating, fresh homes are Robles at Mount Victoria. When the experts categorise these weather conditions that cause these type of bushfires, they generally use a point system, and once it reaches 100, they call it catastrophic. Yesterday it hit more than 150. It is so bad they do not even have a word for it. In some small way, I guess it helps explain the mess and the despair that surround us tonight. In some wall -- small way. It is so hard to put so much of what we are seeing into words, when you see people who have lost everything. Most of the people are trying to focus on what they do have, and that is each other, and when you have seen your home go up in a fireball, that is the most important thing. This is my neighbour 's house burning. It only took a few minutes will is blames to swallow this dream home. They had every sprinkler on inside at every available hose spreading the outside, but how do you stop this? Five houses have gone.It is total devastation.But to have my husband here, it is more than anything. The fire is still smouldering and the emotions are sinking in.This is just one street of many. The Burns family returned home to what was once their 2-storey brick home. The things that cannot be replaced. Neighbours in the same street have been sifting through the rubble all day. This was the scene yesterday. Among the thick smoke was a desperate Adam. Incredibly, he ran back into his burning home to try to save something.You have no idea. The ultimate goal was to save the whole house. But it was impossible.Impossible because of the sheer intensity of the flames at a multiple locations across the state. Here, at Lake Munmorah, the effort to save this property claimed they live, 63-year-old Walter Linder and suffered a heart attack. He was just an awesome man.He will be missed by all his friends. He, panic and exhaustion also affected firefighters.Two are in hospital. Smoke blanketed large parts of the state and schools were placed on lockdown. A police escort ferried a convoy of buses to one Blue Mountains School, the shock edged on faces. In some suburbs, relentless and the attacks, indiscriminately picked some houses, leaving others are untouched.I put a bit of water on it, did the best I could. You can only hope for the best. Resources have been stretched to the limit and so have people.We have got the best firefighters in the world. They are second to none.We came