I just received this from one of my Australian connections on Linked In.  I had NO idea the bushfires were so extensive in Australia.  Here it is in her words: Dear Traci, I am taking a minute to email all of my LinkedIn connections in relation to the horrific Bushfire situation in Victoria, Australia. I live in the rebuilt township of Cockatoo, Victoria; the worst hit town, obliterated in the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires in which 75 people died and 2,545 homes were lost, total land area burnt was approximately 2,100 km². On the weekend I evacuated my young family ahead of the warnings that the fire conditions on Saturday 7th January 2009 would be worse than those on Ash Wednesday, and they were. Thankfully our area was spared this time around, however many areas weren’t. The current situation is that there are 25 fires still burning out of control and a total 152 fires burning in Victoria yet to be declared safe, 173 people are confirmed dead and over 750 homes lost, 3,218 km² of land burnt, and still more to come. I personally have dear friends still missing in Kinglake and Narbethong, including two children aged 6 and 3, and several other friends are thankfully safe, but without homes. It cost $1.3 billion (in today’s adjusted terms) to rebuild after Ash Wednesday. Victorian citizens, Corporate and Government have already raised $28 Million, however it will take much more to rebuild after this devastating event. I am making a heartfelt appeal to anyone who can spare a few dollars to please make a donation to the Australian Red Cross, Victorian Bushfire Appeal 2009 on this link, every single dollar counts. Please could you also share this email with your professional networks, or on blogs, etc. Thank you for your consideration and for sparing a thought for all who have lost beloved ones, animals, homes and memories. Kind regards, Katherine