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Seven Nightly News -

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It was wrong too. It was incorrect as well,
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No. The answer was grasshoppers.
Oh. But, look, don't be too disheartened because you do have
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This program is captioned live. Tonight - apocalyptic scenes as the New South Wales
bushfire crisis claims more homes and turns deadly.

Died doing what he thought
was the right thing. The day the Blue Mountains
turned black - the firestorm
wiping out entire neighbourhoods.

Just everything.

Hundreds of reinforcements arrive with out-of-control fires
still burning and more dangerous
weather conditions ahead.

VOICEOVER: This is Seven News
at 6:00 with Mark Ferguson.

Good evening. This is 24 Emma Parade
here at Winmalee in the Blue Mountains. There is nothing left. In this one street alone, I think I've counted
14 homes destroyed. I say I think, because, in places,
it's hard to tell where one boundary finishes
and another starts. But if it is 14,
it's a heart-breaking number - 14 houses gone,
14 families homeless. So many people
who have to start all over again. And this is one devastated street
among many. Tonight, our reporters are standing by
across the disaster zones for a special one-hour edition
of Seven News. We begin with Chris Maher and the sad news that
at least one man has lost his life on the Central Coast.

History in ruins. The heritage-rich seaside village
of Catherine Hill Bay south of Newcastle charred by bushfire, remarkable work by fire crews
saved much of the town. Across what is a narrow strip
of land, the battle grew today, a huge fire front
burning through thick bush. Only a thin line of firefighters
preventing more loss and heartbreak. A damaging fire,
confirmed today as deadly - 63-year-old Walter Linder collapsed as he tried to stop a spot fire
consuming a shed. A gentleman, always was concerned about
other people before himself and that's why he stuck around. Paramedics tried unsuccessfully
to keep him alive after he suffered what's believed
to have been a massive heart attack. He was a lovely chap, very likeable,
fairly popular in the street, and walked his dog every morning
up and down the street. His dog, Rex,
now being cared for by neighbours. Among the toll on bricks and mortar,
houses with million-dollar views as well as
the big prawn garage complex on the Pacific Highway. A change in wind direction
this afternoon allowed fire crews
to fight fire with fire. We're on the Old Pacific Highway
just south of Swansea. Over here is Lake Macquarie,
over here is the ocean. It's a narrow strip of land
and it's on fire. Firefighters are doing their best
to keep the front at bay. By this afternoon, other Lake Macquarie suburbs
were at risk, residents advised
to stay and shelter - it was too late to go. It's been an anxious day. some people taking to the water
to stay safe. We knew the day would come, we just didn't expect it
one year into our new house.

Overnight,

strong winds pushed the huge blaze
straight towards Catherine Hill Bay. At least five buildings were lost. As they burned,
the battle continued to save others. Certainly, we've had flame heights
in excess of 20-30 metres, and the fire has travelled
approximately 8km.

Further north at Raymond Terrace,
it was the longest of nights. Powerful southerly winds
produced frightening flames, terrifying residents in its path. I've not seen one before. Residents turned around to find embers lighting up trees
behind them. There are plenty of embers
flying around here on this Raymond Terrace street. The fire is very close
to the houses here certainly, many residents are going. I don't know. Look, you can see the flames
through there. Getting a little bit worried. Neighbours were also looking out
for each other, trying to convince Bruce Harris
to make his getaway. Yeah, I've the car there. Because if I have to, I'll physically pick you up
and put you in my car. The human toll
could easily have been greater but many heeded advice
and fled to evacuation centres. Just tired, and want to go home,
wondering what we're going home to. Late this afternoon, residents returned
to Catherine Hill Bay some to discover their losses. Yeah, lost everything except
the clothes I've got on. Others residents found lucky
escapes. Absolutely grateful, the fire brigade have done
a wonderful job.

Live now to Chris Maher
near Lake Munmorah. Chris, is the fire there
still out of control?

The threat has reduced significantly down to keep watch. They have successfully protected homes. They are mopping up around Catherine Hill Bay and Nords Wharf. The pressure has eased

Across the state,
91 fires are burning, 24 of them remain out of control. The exact number
isn't yet known, but hundreds of homes have been lost
from Raymond Terrace in the north, through the Blue Mountains
and south to Balmoral. The fire at Springwood
is one that flared up this afternoon and evacuations were ordered. Reporter Alex Hart
is in the Seven News chopper. Alex, how's it looking?

The Guernsey there are still significant flames burning deep in the bushland. As you can see. Fire trucks on the ground behind the flames. There are 284 firefighters on the ground trying to keep this under control. A lot of nervousness because this fire got away from authorities yesterday. The threat level has been downgraded to watch and act. There closed to the St Columba's School. -- they are close to. The fire has got up to the perimeter of the college. When the move to the left, you can see, and number of water-borne and helicopters are working. And -- water bombing. A lot of control. They do not want this to get out of control. A school was evacuated nearby, not that one, Springwood. The official count is some 81 properties have been damaged. The count will rise much higher. It still going to the hundreds. Concerns about spot fires. No immediate threat to any homes. What is the weather doing at the moment? It is burning in an easterly direction. Not very strong. Conditions are relatively favourable. They want to do their best to bring of this under control before it starts turning bad.

Earlier, firefighters at Springwood were working to protect properties
under threat on Chapman Parade
and north of Rita Avenue. An emergency warning sent residents of Chapman Parade
scrambling for safety this afternoon. We'll go, we'll just go. They're only things -
rather be safe. Neighbours tried
to protect their homes with garden hoses. Just trying to keep everything wet
and hopefully, that does the trick. Springwood High students
were evacuated to Faulconbridge Public School, away from the ongoing threat
of spot fires. Dozens of residents spent the night
at the Springwood Sports Club. They woke today not knowing
if they could ever return home. We probably won't have a house. You don't know at the moment? We don't know,
but it's not looking good. Others did know.

This is all we've got,
all we've got.

We've got each other, got the dog,
got our family. Gonna have to make it work. 9-year-old Mia
was at Westmead Hospital for a brain operation while the Odell family burnt down. I trust God
and I think that he'll look after us and our family is OK. Joan Murray runs a childcare centre
in Winmalee. Firefighters couldn't save
the play equipment but they did save the centre and, most importantly,
the children who were playing there.

There's flames all around us. To keep the little ones OK,
we start singing and the first song
that comes to mind is 'If You're Happy and You Know It,
Clap Your Hands'. The disaster has triggered
government relief payments for those who are affected but it's the support of the community organisations
and charities providing the help
these people need now.

The Prime Minister
witnessed the suffering first hand. Make him work? Well, that's probably
the best therapy when you've had a bit of a shock,
isn't it? Yeah. Ashley Moore's family
lost its home as well. We grieve for everyone
impacted by these fires. The general public
is already chipping in too. The Salvation Army
swamped with donations. I've got pieces of paper
in my pocket, phone numbers of people
who want to volunteer. It's just been crazy.

We have breaking news. Live now to Jodie Speers
at Springwood. Jodie, you have the initial damage
assessment from that fire?

We do, Mark. Confirmation that at

We do, Mark. Confirmation that at
least 81 properties have been destroyed in this blazer alone. 37 homes damaged. That is just one third of the fire ground that assessors have got to today. The losses are expected to potentially drawn into the hundreds, just for this blaze alone. I am at Springwood High School this evening, which was the scene of a lot of concern this afternoon. Students were relocated, as you have heard. In the last 45 minutes or so, the emergency rating has been downgraded to watch and act. Good news for residents. A nervous wait.

Some of the most dramatic scenes
in this bushfire crisis, involved a man's repeated efforts
to salvage possessions from his burning home
putting his own life at risk. The house was lost but the owner
survived and today he gave thanks
to a cameraman who pushed him to safety.

Among the residents returning
to their charred homes today, this man.

There's nothing left, just four walls
and the remains of his motorbike. But Adam Schweinsberg
is lucky to be alive. How ya going, mate? Oh, bad, mate, bad. We met Adam yesterday, choking on smoke
but determined to save something. I gotta see what else I can salvage. A quest that became a battle as cameraman Jason Webster
begged him to leave. Time to go. Forget it, bro!
Ohh... It's time to leave!
Yeah... Too hot, too smoky! Get out, man. He did, but came straight back. Come on, man! Let's go! It's only the back room
that's burning! I know. Why don't we just go and put it out? It's the smoke that'll get you.
Let's go. (SIREN WAILS)

Just gotta put it out. Jump in the back of the car
if you want. Nah. Adam says he had to try. I had a few things that I needed to
grab, like a laptop and a computer. It wasn't burning inside the house but the smoke was so intense
and it was so dark, I couldn't see anything. It was just absolutely pitch black
and impossible to breathe. He's grateful
for that shove in the back.

I think he told me
the smoke is the worst thing and it's the first time
I've dealt with smoke and he's certainly right about that. So he talked some sense into you? Yeah, yeah. Adam counts himself lucky
he's insured. But the loss of
irreplaceable possessions is hard, especially for the Byrnes family. They moved here 18 months ago,
knew the risks, had a plan but the fire was simply too quick. 40-odd years of life, photos... All her stuff, her school stuff,
the photos as a baby. Just everything.

My photos and my medals and stuff. And fate is fickle - the only thing that survived
was their lawn mower. Bit of a cruel, little twist
it threw in for me. "There you go,
you can have your lawn mower, "but you got no lawn or house
to worry about now."

Sometimes, precious things survive. Here, what looks like
a pair of christening mugs. Everywhere you see,
the erratic nature of a bushfire. The random path of destruction
is quite cruel. Over on this side, four houses in a row, like this one, completely burned, nothing left. Yet next door, the house here,
absolutely no damage at all. And for those
lucky to have been spared, there is often a new burden -
survivor guilt. But in a mountain town
like Winmalee, neighbours will do whatever they can
to help.

Live now to Rural Fire Service
headquarters and Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons
joins us. Firstly, which areas
are of most concern for you?

Good evening. We fortunately Dow included all fires off the emergency alert status. -- downgraded. Many are now watch and act. A lot of uncertainty concerning the fires. When conditions change, when acquirers flare up, that can make a distinctive difference. Watch and act is there for a reason. We need to be ready to act in the event that the situation changes or deteriorates.You got emotional early today describing your pride in the fire fighters. Lipstick a look.We have got the best fire fighters and the world. Second to none.

We can only be proud what has unravelled and the last 24 hours.I think that says something about you and your workmates. They have done an amazing job in extraordinary circumstances. Can they keep going? Indeed they can. This is what they train and prepare for. I can give you an update, the two fire fighters who were in hospital, one has been released and has gone home and the others underwent surgical treatment today. We will keep him in hospital until the weekend that he will also be released. The firefighters are doing an extraordinary job along with all of their partners across the fire grounds. They are in it for the long haul. The way we are looking in terms of the weather, that could be an ominous sign for the months ahead with the continuous forecast of hot and dry conditions going into some were forced on -- into the summer.

Fire crews are continuing
to battle flare-ups at Mount Victoria
in the Blue Mountains where a large number
of houses have been destroyed. Locals say the fire
is the worst in 20 years. Today homeowners returned
not knowing what they'd find.

The pain of losing everything
after the day from hell at Mount Victoria. yards blackened, cars a wreck. Obviously took out half a dozen
or so houses in this street. And it was sort of hit and miss
which ones went and which ones didn't. Houses that you expect to burn
but didn't. Michael Reeson returned today. Yesterday, he was here
trying to get his daughter out before police ordered them to go. Ah, next minute police come down
and said, "Lost control", and told us to get out. So, basically, throwing
everything in the cars over the next five minutes
and that was it.

We heard last night
the place had been burnt down. Somehow, Margaret Gough's house
is still standing even after embers melted
her skylight, and began burning her living room. Fire crews managed to save it. My house? We've got the shell, haven't we? The inside will have to be gutted. But we've got a good starting point. Some of her rescued animals
like these possums survived the fire, some not. Last night crews battled to put out
burning embers.

Whoah, whoah. A fight that's far from won. 80 firefighters were
on the ground today battling to bring it under control. and it's giving us variable
conditions,

so we put one part out
and it flares up on us again. Investigators believe the blaze
started in yesterday's strong winds when a falling tree brought
down power lines on Mount York. That power pole is less than a kay
away on the next ridge over but by the time the fire
reached this street in less than two hours
it was a firestorm. So hot this car windscreen
didn't shatter - it melted. Leaves on the tree
show the direction of the fire. They're baked in place. Residents' resilience
just as stubborn. We live in Australian bush. We gotta - it's a tough life.

Live to Hugh Whitfeld
at Mount Victoria. Hugh, how's the situation
looking tonight?

It has cooled down significantly. About 14 degrees right now. The wing has been causing problems all day. Now fire crews have got on top of that in the last hour or so. A number of other flare-ups around the fire. 80 firefighters bringing it under control tonight. They'll try some back burning the of the Great Western highway, which is likely to close. This fire is significantly smaller than some of the other fires burning around the state. This is a case when science does not matter. Even though it is smaller, the destruction is just as The fires are causing big problems
for some road and rail users. Live to Ashlea Brown, who's in the Blue Mountains town
of Clarence. Ashlea, how bad is it?

Mark, this is the Bells Line Road
behind me and around the corner a spot fire
just jumped the road - so they've closed the road. The road is closed from
Mount Victoria to Bell, it's not expected to re-open
til Sunday. Drivers are warned the Great Western Highway around
Mount York Road could close anytime. In the north at Raymond Terrace, Richardson Road is closed and there are other partial
road closures in the area. In the south, Picton Road is partially closed
from Macarthur Road to Mount Ousley Road. And, the Blue Mountains rail line is shut
from Lithgow to Mount Victoria. Buses are replacing trains, Mark.

We have some important phone numbers
for you now. Anyone worried
about family and friends should call the emergency hotline.

And the Salvation Army has started
an appeal for bushfire victims. If you want to help,
phone the Salvos on:

The weather is, of course, key to
where this crisis goes from here. Sally Bowery join us. Sal, is there any good news? Mark, it's not a good outlook,
but we feared this day would come. The past 12 months have been
Australia's hottest on record. New South Wales has never seen
a week of humidity levels this low. This is a satellite picture
of New South Wales. It gives you an idea
of how massive the situation is. The smoke's so extensive
you can see it from space. Some of the fires burning
are so large that they create
their own weather patterns. Super-heated air triggering
swirling winds, like mini tornadoes. Days of torrential rain
would be needed to put out of some of the fires. It's now a race against time
to contain things before the heat hits again
this weekend. On Sunday northerly winds will push
temperatures to 35 in the west. It will be more humid

and the winds will be gusting half
of what they were yesterday. 38 degrees on Monday.

I'll have more details
a little later on. Mark.

Still to come in this special
one-hour Seven News at 6:00 - The incredible view from the air as Sydney and its surrounds
continue to burn. Lives on the line
in a desperate battle to save homes. That's next.

We tested a whitening toothpaste versus new Oral-B
Pro-Health Whitening. Both girls got whiter smiles, but only Kylie's mouth is clinically
proven to be protected
in all the areas dentists
check most.

You're watching a special one-hour
Seven News covering the devastation
of the bushfire crisis. We're live tonight from Winmalee,
one of the hardest hit areas. Let me bring you up to speed
with the situation as it stands. We know of at least one death - a 63-year-old man killed trying
to save his Central Coast property. Authorities have confirmed 81 homes
have been destroyed, but only 30% of the fire ground
has been assessed. Tonight the emergency at Springwood
has been downgraded, 89 fires are still burning. And firefighting reinforcements
have begun arriving from interestate to help local efforts.

Good evening, Casey. I have seen you working today, going through people's homes.My dad is a community fire leader and my sister is in the RSS. We have been looking for things that are still smouldering in putting out bits and pieces.What was it like here yesterday?I did not see much because I was in my house. Around 2 o'clock my mum told me there was a fire and I thought it would be fine. Then another member of the community fire unit came to my house and told me I had to go. I picked up the dog. The neighbour's dog was running riot. I left India. They did not have shoes. Houses were burning. Ago it picked up by a police officer. They took me to Coles, down the road. I was just waiting. I did not know what was happening.What did it feel like crying you came back?It was quite so real. The house was still burning. My neighbour's roof was on fire. And I wanted to get the neighbour's dog Engel.You have lived here all your life, what will things be like?It is a small community, a small town. I don't know how many people will stay. It is a very hard time for everyone. Good on you. We appreciate your time. Many homeowners were well-prepared and took matters
into their own hands, battling the blaze with friends,
family and neighbours. Seven News joined residents around
Clarence in the Blue Mountains as they fought to save
their houses from destruction.

In the face of a firestorm,
a community's last line of defence.

At Dargan,
these volunteers are all that stood between the racing flames
and more destruction. Here, fate is measured
in metres and seconds. Just when
it seemed to be whipping past, the shifting smoke warned
the fire was turning towards us.

But they fought on,
sheltered behind their truck while flames licked
at the other side. This was a hellish battle
under a devil's sun. And one the Butler family was facing
too, trying to stop their tiny village
of Newnes Junction being scorched from the map.

There were no fire trucks,
all they had was each other. This is my son, Jade. He's a legend.

An exhausted one. Together with a neighbour
and a couple of mates, they saved four homes with shovels, buckets, hoses,
and local know-how. Prepared, had evac, had pumps. But across the road,
two places couldn't be saved, Reduced to ruins
as the fire blasted through. This was the battle
to save this small community. These cars
literally started exploding. This was the turning point. Let's (BLEEP!) go! We're staying. Those homes in Dargan
last seen disappearing in the smoke were saved too, by RFS crews. Surrounded by scorched earth,
there were survivors. I'm looking forward to the beach. Yeah, sell up. Lake Moat.

You may remember
the young tradesman, Nathan, who spoke to us on last night's news
after he lost everything, including his tools
in his family's house. Now, we're pleased to report some generous donors are offering
help to Nathan and his parents.

Joe Andrade has worked
at Parliament House for 32 years. This morning he returned
to the ruins of his own.

Going on 17 years
and all our dreams and... it's just gone down,
just gone up in flames. Just... there's no words to express,
I don't know what to say. I'm lost, I'm confused. Last night Seven News interviewed their son,
Nathan.

You're an apprentice carpenter -
all your tools have gone?

Yeah, a few tools in my boot but the rest were sitting
in the garage and yep they've been gone.

They've been burnt. After the fire,
a flood of goodwill including an offer to replace
Nathan's tools and help his family
rebuild their lives.

People do pull together. We understand the reality
of bushfire, because we live with it
every summer. On nearby Hawkesbury Road Pat Minney's family lost almost
everything. Daughter's bedroom, son's room,
workshop, ensuite, kitchen over there, lounge,
yeah, front veranda,

BBQ area's gone,
me most important part. Pat's humour still intact, as dry as the wind that destroyed the home
he had been preparing to sell. It's on the market. Open house tomorrow, you think
I should put it off?

The Minney family's
only surviving possessions - their clothing and Pat's boat. We're just lucky we've got
each other and everyone's safe. These houses in Moray Street,
Winmalee, were nowhere near the fire front fanned by winds exceeding 90km/h
that left these homes in ruin.

Very sad. Not just for me
but for everyone, everyone involved. But the constant threat of fire
and its disastrous impact will never be enough to separate the locals and
their beloved Blue Mountains. Are you going to stay here? Yeah, bloody oath.
I won't go anywhere.

We'll have more on the bushfire
devastation shortly but next in Seven News at 6:00 - why Derryn Hinch
could still go to jail after being hit with a huge fine. Bill Shorten unveils
his frontbench team, to take on Tony Abbott. And a first for Prince William,
as he steps up his royal duties.