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For Marcos Ambrose, Victoria's wildfires aren't just 14,000 miles away


   Marcos Ambrose (Photo: Toyota Motorsports)


   By Mike Mulhern

   FONTANA, Calif.
   For fire-plagued Southern Californians, who endure an annual fall fire season that can be so striking dramatic on TV, Aussie Marcos Ambrose can relate: his own country has been embroiled in a similar terrible disaster, and one much deadlier.
    "The bush fires we've all watched on TV the last few weeks have probably been the worst natural disaster in Australia's history," Ambrose says. "Hundreds of lives have been lost, millions of acres have been scorched. They're saying the water may be tainted for over a decade from all the fire damage and the soot and the ash.
     "Australians live with bush fires. It's something we've grown to adapt to.
    "But with the drought over the last three or four years, and properties encroaching into park lands, and cities growing to the edge of national forests, this has been a terrible deal in Australia. The entire country has been affected."
   So Ambrose is putting a link on his own website www.marcosambrose.com for donations to fire victims.
   "We're going to actively promote this," Ambrose says. "The issues, and the money that needs to be raised, are not going to go away in the short term.
   "So we're starting today to try to raise awareness to let everyone know here in North America that Australia is doing tough and we need help, both financially and morally."
   Ambrose says close friends have been hit: "My best man at my wedding lost his house and all his contents in a fire, and he said he was in the house at the time, and from the moment he smelled smoke to the house burning down was less than 10 minutes.
   "And he had no idea the fire was close. 
    "When he went outside to have a look, he saw his grass on fire…and within 40 seconds the house was engulfed in flames. 
    "Even though I'm 14,000 miles away, it's all affected me deeply, and I hope to play my part in helping Australia bounce back."

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