Stunned residents sift through ashes in Australia

Stunned residents sift through ashes in Australia

YELLOW ROCK, Australia - The granite slabs that were once a kitchen bench are still warm five days after a horrifying firestorm tore through Tegan Mobbs' Blue Mountains home in Australia, reducing it to ashen rubble.

A chimneystack and fireplace are all that remain upright in the ruins of what was once a five-bedroom home on a picturesque five-acre bush block in Yellow Rock, west of Sydney.

As fire crews scrambled Tuesday to clear buffer zones between another fire front and protect homes in dozens of Blue Mountains villages lying in its path, Mobbs' scorched street is a stark reminder of the inferno's force and how much is at stake as conditions intensify.

Her immediate neighbours escaped unscathed during last week's out-of-control blaze because they were home to fight the flames. But Mobbs - a policewoman stationed in Sydney - and her partner, Jo Graham, were both at work when the crisis struck and unable to save their home.

"They said one minute there was nothing, the next minute there was just a wall of flame," Mobbs, 28, told AFP.

The fire travelled so fast Mobbs said there was scarcely enough time to get home and by the time Jo got there the house was already in flames, their two dogs trapped in the backyard "with the burning house around them".

"(Jo's) just gone in there and grabbed them, threw them in the pool because they were burning hot, and drove them round to a friend's," she said.

"She gave me a call as she was walking back to the car and said 'don't bother coming home, it's gone'".

The couple had been living in the street for barely 12 months and lost everything with the exception of their best friend's wedding ring, which she had left at their home just days earlier.

They discovered it sifting through the rubble, which still emanated heat five days later due to the intensity of the flames.

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