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(generated from captions) $20,000, great achievement. Easily played. What a comeback! That last double point round was one of the most thrilling things
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This program is captioned live. Tonight - fresh fire emergencies. Residents warned to seek shelter
as flames race towards more homes. The exhausting battle
to stop the Blue Mountains fires merging into a mega blaze,
hundreds of kilometres wide.

We're not bulletproof,
we're not miracle workers but we'll do the very best we can
to limit a death toll. Two boys, one just 11,
accused of lighting a fire that burnt through
thousands of hectares. And the health warning for Sydney as the city disappears beneath
a choking blanket of smoke. VOICEOVER: This is Seven News
at 6:00 with Chris Bath.

Good evening.

I'm reporting from Mount Victoria where homes are in ruins,
lives turned upside down. The woman who owned the house
behind me returned today, too upset to talk to us on camera. Sadly, we're warned worse conditions
are expected midweek. Late this afternoon, fires flared at Springwood
and Wilton, south-west of Sydney, with people told to leave. There are real fears

the three fires burning
in the Blue Mountains could form what the Commissioner
calls a "mega fire" - a worst-case scenario
that could prove unstoppable. Tonight, Seven News has reporters
live across the fire zones with the latest warnings
and predictions of what's ahead. Mark Ferguson begins our coverage.

It was today described
as the demon in the mountains. And in just about any direction,
you can see why. As the temperature climbed
this afternoon, so did the flames. An emergency warning declared
a short time ago at Springwood. Those on the frontline
now having to roll the dice to stay in the fight. There's been some very challenging
high-risk aggressive fire strategies being deployed right across
the vast fire ground. Nowhere more so than along
the Bells Line of Road. Again, the fight was on today
to protect property - from the air and the ground.

This time they had a win. These guys
have done such as amazing job.

But there are real fears these
flames could tear through Bilpin and down into the Hawkesbury. Locals must either stay
and be prepared to fight or go, and go now.

Got to make the decision now -
please don't wait until Wednesday. Because by Wednesday,
it will be too late - temperatures in the mid 30s and more importantly,
winds gusting to 100km/h will feed this demon
like never before. In the Blue Mountains region
this evening fires are burning near Lithgow at Bell and towards Bilpin. And there this blaze
here at Mount Victoria and, of course,
there's the large bushfire that has already caused
so many problems around Springwood and Winmalee. These fires are likely
to join together But the real fear now is that if those conditions
predicted for Wednesday eventuate, it may also link up
with the fire at Springwood, creating one enormous blaze, with a perimeter
of hundreds of kilometres and how do you stop that?

We are not bulletproof,
not miracle makers. We do our best
to limit a death toll and limit the amount of damage
destruction throughout communities that come under fire.

An emergency warning
was also declared at Wilton to the south of Sydney this afternoon. The Premier reminding everyone that a state of emergency
is now in place. Forced evacuations
a real possibility. If asked in those circumstances,
they must comply. Central Sydney is safe from flame
but not smoke and that has triggered
a health warning - especially for the elderly,
young children or anyone with breathing problems. We're recommending
that those people stay inside with windows and doors closed and preferably in air-conditioned
areas. No such luxury for these guys. As weary as they are, the real fight
may be about to begin.

For more on the emergency warning
at Springwood, we'll go live now
to Adam Walters at Faulconbridge. Adam, some people have gone
but others have been left behind? Yes, Chris.

After 3:30 this afternoon,
those who had not gone were advised by the RFS
to stay and seek shelter as this fire was escalated
to a full-scale emergency. The area causing the most anxiety
is just a few blocks north of here in the Daly Road-Gross Court
neighbourhood. All the homes in that area are empty but further up the hill towards us, residents are staying behind
to protect their properties.

A day of watching and waiting ends with high alerts
this afternoon at Faulconbridge.

Got the kids gone,
got a firefighting hose out back. Got a bunker next door.
We'll wait till it comes. Pushed by winds
from the north east, fire in the Grose Valley
headed towards homes. You sit there. Good chooks. At first residents were warned
to evacuate but later they were told
it was too late and to stay and seek shelter. That's a NATO gas mask
from the '80s. Used for nuclear war but obviously would do fine
in smoke as well. It had been a hot day for the battle-hardened
people of Springwood who were keeping a cool head
in a crisis. They had been overwhelmed
by the generosity of others. If people want to give,
they need to do that in cash. Although the breeze
was gentle today, residents heeded the Premier's
warning to avoid complacency. People shouldn't be scared, but get themselves prepared
for the worst-case scenario, better to be safe than sorry. And there was a plea for those
in the Lower Blue Mountains not to be deceived
by falling temperatures.

If people wake up tomorrow
and it's cooler and overcast they shouldn't think the crisis
is over. It could get every bit as bad
as before over the next few days. Firefighting in the
Lower Blue Mountains A nor-easterly wind provided
a valuable opportunity for back-burning.

Just as crucial as the water
bombing - aerial surveillance. Interstate firefighters
are providing valuable back-up, reinforcing the effort on
containment lines near Springwood and playing a vital role
in door-to-door damage assessment.

Further north at Richmond,
they were ready after all the predictions
of another ferocious firestorm. Right now it's quiet but it's very likely
that this part of the Hawkesbury is going to need help

in terms of enquiries
and people looking for support. The destruction of so many homes
in the Lower Blue Mountains has created a severe
accommodation crisis - all hotels and motels
are fully booked.

As we've heard, communities along
the Bells Line Of Road are of great concern
to fire authorities. Hugh, are residents
heeding the warnings for them to evacuate their homes?

Chris, some people
have abandoned their properties, others seem to think
they can defend their homes, and have stayed. Across this huge blaze,
there are multiple fronts, including right behind me. The fire is moving up slowly but fire crews hope
their efforts today will reduce the chance
more homes are destroyed here.

A high-risk back-burn
gets a whole lot riskier.

On the Bells Line of Road, a deliberately lit fire
temporarily gets away from crews before it's brought
back under control. They've spent the day
burning into the bush behind homes at Dargan and Bell to slow the march of the fire front. Bit stressed. The wife's stressed.
Sent her away. Even after losing an arm
in an industrial accident, Dave Wilpour
was doing all he could today to protect everything he owns with help from volunteer firies. I wouldn't do that for quids. It's a hard, hard job. You walk within a couple meters
of that fire and you feel the skin on your face
starting to burn.

It's not just the flames,
but the smoke. The mountains choking
beneath a thick blanket. Crews have arrived
from as far away as Victoria to help fight the blaze that now stretches
from Lithgow to Bilpin, nearly 43,000 hectares. It's been burning east
since last week but it's feared a wind change could send a massive 30km fire front
south towards larger communities
on the Great Western Highway. The ground's so dry, it's scary. Haven't seen this
for a long, long time. The main weapon
is water bombing choppers and back burning.

What we're doing is we're
burning back into the fire front to make sure that
it doesn't jump over here and get into the rail corridor
again. They're protecting the power supply and preparing for two separate fires
to merge. The main fire front
is about 50m down the hill. It's from Mount Victoria.

Crews want it to actually meet up
with the State Mine fire near Bell while the conditions
are a little bit more favourable and they can keep it
somewhat under control. The more that we can sit this down,
even just today, it's the winds that get ya, the winds that pick up a fire
and throw it across the mountains.

We'll go live now to Sally Bowrey Sally, how's it looking right now?

At the moment, are the visibility is extremely poor. We're sitting to the east at the moment. You can see what the firefighters are working against. And it is difficult to get fire-fighting apparatus into the area. Working against very difficult conditions. The wind is not too strong. They need to get a handle on and this fire. The flames are quite tall, right into the treetops. We have got evacuations across the area. It is moving in a northerly direction, towards Jennings Road. There have been evacuations. Some real concerns for the next full lower as. They will be working with lighter wind at the moment. And a lot of areas at risk in Faulconbridge. It is very difficult for the fire crews. Some intense and thick smoke across the area.

We have some breaking news now
on the fire which is nearing Bilpin, north west of Sydney.

Damien Smith is there for Seven News
and joins us now live, Damien, what's happened?

Chris, Rural Fire crews here are
moving into property protection mode after the fire started moving
very quickly. They've been forced to call off
any more containment burns as they try to protect some homes
coming under threat. It will make
for a nervous night here for a community already
on high alert. On Sydney's north-western outskirts, residents are being warned
about the looming danger.

Without being alarmist,
it is a serious situation. Crews were briefed on the potential
for a mega blaze on Wednesday with fears it could surge towards
the Hawkesbury and Richmond areas if gale-force winds take hold. The dire forecast has triggered
an urgent reminder for locals. We've given people ample time for people to make some
very important decisions, you know, stay or get out. Those living in the centre of Bilpin
are being told they can stay but could be isolated and without
power for several days if they do. People living to the west
are being urged to leave now while residents east of the town
are also being told to go if their homes
haven't been prepared.

Ready just in case. Weary fire crews
have worked through the night, building containment lines
north of the town.

They've worked tirelessly,
put a lot of effort into it. Moments later... TWO-WAY RADIO: All units
are to cease operations down in the Bowen Trail and move back to the
Bilpin staging area. We've got to go. these fires were conducting
controlled burn-offs down Bowens Creek Road. Now, they've been ordered out. The warning lights were working
outside the local school but the gates are closed
until further notice. Orchardist John Galbraith
is doing what he can to prepare his property.

I'm not confident about them if we
get strong winds from the north, which is what they're predicting.

Firebreaks are being reinforced
with bulldozers. We've been ready for 20 years,
since the last fire. Pumps, sprinklers
and a tank on a ute make him confident
his house is safe.

While back-burning
and firefighting efforts have relieved the immediate threat
to Bilpin today, authorities are still concerned
about what could happen on Wednesday when the expected wild weather
arrives. Three boys have been arrested over the deliberate lighting
of major fires in the Hunter Region last week. Reporter Robert Ovadia joins us live from Rural Fire Service
Headquarters. Rob, what specifically
are they accused of doing? Chris, one boy is just 11 years old and police say he ignited the blaze that closed Newcastle Airport,
destroyed sheds and threatened Williamtown. This was the result.

It forced large-scale
emergency evacuations and incinerated an area
of about 5,000 hectares. Detectives say the primary school
student initially lit the fire at Heatherbrae several days beforehand. That's about 11km
west of Williamtown. They knocked on the boy's door
this morning, took him to Raymond Terrace
police station and charged him. Late today, a 15-year-old
alleged accomplice was arrested. Detectives are interviewing him
right now. And they've also arrested
a 14 year old. That teenager is accused of setting
fire to bushland at Rutherford, also in the Hunter Region, yesterday afternoon. These are children
we're talking about but given
the potential consequences, firefighters and police
are pretty angry about it.

Rob, as well as arson,
police are out to catch looters. They are, and this in particular has angered
the Police Commissioner who calls it
the lowest act imaginable. Andrew Scipione does say, however, that you can count on one hand the number of incidents where people
who have fled fire zones have returned
to find their homes ransacked. But it is something
police are monitoring.

First and foremost, we will deal with you very harshly. Secondly, you need to understand that there are so good at and penalties. You are facing a term of imprisonment of up to 14 years. We have officers out on the ground who are involved in patrolling these areas. A stern warning for looters there. As for arsonists, five have been
arrested since this crisis began. All of them juveniles. Chris. Let's check in with Sarah Cumming
on the latest weather conditions. Sarah, how bad is the forecast
looking this week? Chris, a weak southerly change is moving up the New South Wales
coast tonight. It's generating the odd light shower but won't bring any
significant relief to firefighters. Temperatures soared today, reaching 37 at Penrith. 36 at Richmond

and 29 in the Blue Mountains. Thankfully humidity was moderate and winds weren't as strong
as we've seen in recent days. We still recorded gusts up to 39km/h
in the mountains, though. As those temperatures
soared into the high 30s. Tomorrow temperatures will be
a couple of degrees cooler with the odd shower. So no major relief but it's still better to have cloud
around rather than hot dry winds. Wednesday is the danger day.
It'll be very warm. And these north-westerlies will gust
up to 60km/h or 70 km/h. We'll get a westerly change
in the morning and then south-westerly
Wednesday afternoon. We haven't had south-westerly winds
with these fires yet so that poses a new threat. And they'll be strong and gusty
throughout the day. I'll have the detailed forecast
later in the bulletin, Chris.

The Rural Fire Service is holding
community meetings tonight about the bushfire crisis to explain
what Blue Mountains residents face in coming days. There's one at the Hazelbrook
Rural Fire Brigade Station at 7pm. Another at
the Blue Mountains Christian School at Blackheath at 7:30pm. At the same time,
another meeting will be held at Medlow Bath Rural Fire Brigade
Station on Railway Parade. Some important phone numbers
for you now. If you need an update
on the latest bushfire conditions, call the Rural Fire Service
information line on 1800 679 737. Or if you'd like to help the victims
of the bushfires, you can make a donation. The Salvation Army Appeal
is on 13 72 58. The Red Cross
has set up an appeal too. The number to call is 1800 811 700. The St Vincent de Paul Society
is also helping those in need. Its number is 13 18 12.

keeping you up to date
with the bushfire crisis continues next with the latest
on those emergency situations in the Blue Mountains
and Southern Highlands. That's next.

VOICEOVER: Perhaps you
or someone you care about have been in a car
or transport accident and you want to find out
what you may be entitled to. And that's when you call:

You're watching a special
one-hour Seven News, bringing you the latest
on the bushfire crisis. An update for you on the emergency
as it stands right now - there are still 63 fires
burning across New South Wales, 17 of them are out of control. An Emergency Warning
has been issued for Springwood. This afternoon,
residents were told to seek shelter. Also, the town of Wilton
in the Southern Highlands came under ember attack
from the Balmoral fire. That blaze has since downgraded
to a Watch and Act.

Residents remain on alert
in the Southern Highlands after an unexpected burst of wind blew those burning embers
towards Wilton. Reporter Sean Berry
has been following the developments.

Wilton is full of emergency workers after being a affected by the wind. A big concern is the near by natural gas plant. It has been shut down. The road has been blocked. Fire crews will defend it. The embers are coming from the Balmoral fire. It is threatening several villages. It looks like the trend will continue. Let's have a listen. They are planning for contingencies. Earlier, fire crews were preparing for the worst. They were lining the streets. There is also an embargo. They are getting ready for any fires. For now, things remain under threat.

More help is on the way to fight the blazes
here in the Blue Mountains. 50 firefighters from the ACT were
briefed on the crisis this morning before heading off
to replace exhausted crews who have been working
for the past five days.

So, while we have the opportunity, we're certainly doing our most
to send as much resource as we can to help
our New South Wales colleagues. The Commissioner warned his team they could be facing
"the perfect storm" if Wednesday's fire conditions
reach catastrophic levels. Victoria and South Australia are
also sending more reinforcements. Some important phone numbers
for you now. If you need an update
on the latest bushfire conditions, call the Rural Fire Service
information line on 1800 679 737. Or if you'd like to help
the victims of the bushfires, you can make a donation. The Salvation Army Appeal
is on 13 72 58. The Red Cross
has set up an appeal too. The number to call is 1800 811 700. The St Vincent de Paul Society
is also helping those in need. Its number is 13 18 12.

So a nervous time ahead
for many residents. I'll have more
on the bushfire crisis shortly. But the rest of the day's news
is next, including - the chilling moments
before a woman plunges to her death from a city apartment block. Also,
passengers deliver their verdict as Sydney's new train timetable
is put to the test. And shortly in sport, the secret motivation that's
driving Sharks star Andrew Fifita towards World Cup glory.

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