UPDATE: State of shock, as fires burn whole towns
AUSTRALIA: Fires are still burning across Victoria, from the North West Dalesford area, east to the Dandenong Ranges and south east to Wilsons Prom on the coast. More fires are expected with dangerous weather conditions predicted for this coming Friday, 27 Feb.
The ABC website shows large format images and video footage of the fires. The death toll from the last weeks has reached 201 and more than 7,000 people are homeless. Towns just outside Melbourne have burned to the ground. Several of the State of Victoria's most historic towns have been burned down to their foundations.
Here is another article which suggests a very surprising possible cause.
Update: Wednesday, 25 Feb. 2009, 8:30pm
Critical to get fires contained, bedded down and settled before the return of high temperatures and winds on Friday.
Probes begin into fires as crews battle for control
Authorities say everything will be done to bring Victoria's major bushfires under control before more dangerous conditions on Friday. Hundreds of firefighters are working to complete containment lines around bushfires near Daylesford, north-west of Melbourne, and Won Wron, in Gippsland and Wilsons Prom.
Bushfire threat eases but worse to come
Firefighters have spent the night backburning and strengthening containment lines, as they prepare for more dangerous weather on Friday.
Update: Friday, 20 Feb. 2009, 12 noon
Disaster Victim Identification teams are now focusing on Marysville as they search for more bodies in the wake of the deadly Victorian bushfires. Police do not expect the death toll, which officially stands at 201, to go much higher. Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe says police have located nearly all of the people reported as missing state-wide.
Update: Saturday, 14 Feb. 2009, 7pm
Hearts broke today, when someone put in a request to ABC radio 774 presenter Jon Faine for donations of black suits for people in the fire ravaged towns. Jon Faine commented that there must be a mistake. Surely the want track suits, not black suits. Then someone called the station to let him know that they needed black suits for the funerals.
Last night we could barely sleep due to the overwhelming smoke and smell of fire all through the night. Fortunately, the fires were still under control today, as the winds had died down.
Retired judge to head bushfires Royal Commission
Retired Supreme Court judge Bernard Teague will lead the Royal Commission into last weekend's devastating bushfires in Victoria.
Victorian Premier John Brumby said State Cabinet endorsed the appointment this afternoon. "What we want from the Royal Commission essentially is as we had from the Royal Commission in 1939 to take into account all of those factors, all of the causes, all of the circumstances."
The Royal Commission will deliver an interim report to the State Government before the next fire season with its final report due to be submitted by July 2010.
Update: Friday, 13 Feb. 2009, 1:30pm
Rebuild starts now for 7,000 homeless:
Victorian Premier John Brumby says rebuilding schools will be the first priority as the state recovers from the killer bushfires which have left 7,000 people homeless.
More than 1,800 homes and three schools are now confirmed to have been destroyed in the bushfires but this morning the status of a fire burning outside the town of Healesville was downgraded to 'alert' from 'urgent threat'. The Country Fire Authority says the Healesville blaze is back within containment lines but could break out again if strong winds arrive.
Update: Thursday, 12 Feb. 2009, 12:00 noon
For the first time in five days, no townships are under threat.
Police have arrested two people in relation to suspected arson during Victoria's deadly bushfires.
Police say detectives responded to a report of suspicious behaviour between Seymour and Yea, north of Melbourne, this morning. ...Police believe arsonists are responsible for the Churchill fire, in Victoria's east, and possibly the fire which destroyed the township of Marysville, where up to 100 people could have died.
Update: Wednesday, 11 Feb. 2009, 11:30pm
Fires crews are worried major blazes burning out of control near Melbourne will merge to create one huge fire front. Three thousand firefighters continue to battle more than a dozen fires across Victoria. Authorities fear two large blazes near the Yarra ranges east of Melbourne may join together, fanned by strong winds. If that was to happen, Melbourne's water catchment area could be affected. An urgent threat message remains in place for areas north of the Yea-Murrindindi fire.
ABC tv / radio website has established a comprehensive online Bushfire information page.
Update: Wednesday, 11 Feb. 2009, 10:30am
Arsonists lit fires in north-east Victoria overnight, diverting crews from blazes that have already contributed to the worst bushfire disaster in the state's history.
Two fires were lit at Stanley near Beechworth, but crews managed to extinguish them before they could cause any major damage or exacerbate the threat to local communities. It is understood police have a description of a car seen in the vicinity of the fires and are searching for two people.
A number of Victorian communities remain on alert this morning as bushfires continue to burn in hills in the state's north-east.
Update: 10 Feb. 2009, 1:30pm
At 12:30, fires were under control in the North East of Melbourne, but urgent notices have just gone out re. another fire started at the small town of YEA.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will send in the army to help provide "logistics and support" including trucking fuel and using bulldozers to build firebreaks.
The United States is preparing to send firefighting experts to help the effort in Victoria, where at least 173 people have been killed in blazes that continue to burn across the state.
UPDATE: 10 Feb. 2009, 8am
Authorities are expecting to find more bodies as the devastating bushfires continue to rage across Victoria.
The death toll has risen rapidly through the night, with the latest confirmed total of 173 expected to increase throughout the day.
Police say 35 people have died at Kinglake, 26 at Strathewen and 22 in St Andrews, north of Melbourne.
UPDATE: 9 Feb, 2009 - 7pm
The death toll from Victoria's weekend bushfires has risen to 131 and an urgent threat message has been issued for more communities this afternoon.
A wind change this afternoon is causing the huge fire in the Latrobe Valley to flare up along its northern edge and authorities have issued an urgent threat message to residents in the area, telling them it is too late to try and leave.
Victorian Premier John Brumby has announced there will be a Royal Commission into the weekend bushfires.
More videos and photos on ABC.net.au
UPDATE: 9 Feb, 2009 - 3pm
Monday, 9, February: Authorities in Victoria have warned volunteers they face a grim and confronting task as they start to pick up the pieces from the deadliest bushfire disaster in Australian history.
At least 108 people have died and 750 homes have been lost in the horrific blazes, which continue to rage throughout the state.
Australia's worst bushfire disaster
Sunday, 8, February: The death toll from horrific bushfires across Victoria this weekend has reached 84, surpassing the number of people who perished in the 1983 Ash Wednesday blazes.
Bryan Naylor is a much loved public intellectual, and television personality.
Newsreader Naylor dies in bushfire
Former Channel Nine newsreader Brian Naylor and his wife are among the victims of the Victorian bushfires.
Just one example: Notes from the website of the historic Victorian town of Marysville: See before and after images above. It appears there were no deaths in the town because everyone gathered in the football oval.
Marysville is located within the heavily forested mountains of the Great Dividing Range, a short drive off the Maroondah Highway between Healesville and Alexandra.
Due to its scenic and peaceful location, Marysville has long been a popular holiday retreat for visitors, especially during the spectacular springtime blooming season and the colourful autumn period. Its history dates back to the mid-1800s when gold was discovered in the area, however it wasn't long before guest houses were established and the town became a favourite for honeymooners due to its tranquil setting amongst native bush and waterfalls.
Take a virtual tour of Bruno's Sculpture Garden. The most magical delightful joyous garden I've ever seen, is no more!
Welcome to Bruno's Art & Sculpture Garden. Hidden amongst the trees of the small Victorian village of Marysville is a world full of fantasy, beauty and humour.
Surrounded by the magical rainforest setting, Bruno Torfs has created one of the world's most unique and deeply inspiring experiences for art and garden lovers of all ages.
With over three hundred paintings and sculptures to discover, a journey to Bruno's is one of Australia's most special attractions.
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