AUSTRALIA: Arsonists strike amid bushfire devastation
This is shocking news, especially for all of us who are within or near the fire areas here. The very idea that someone would go out into the fire ravaged countryside and deliberately set more fires is unthinkable, but it has happened!
Arsonists struck 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.
The death toll this morning stands unchanged at 181. At least 78 people have been injured. Twenty-three fires are still burning across the state and 750 homes have been lost. The Red Cross bushfire appeal has raised more than $31 million so far.
Dozens of people remain unaccounted for and more victims are expected to be found in the remains of buildings and cars.
The communities of Rubicon, Thornton-Taggerty Road, Bulls Lane and Cathedral Lane to the east of Little River could be affected by the Yea-Murrindindi fire today.
Other places including Acheron, Connellys Creek, Crystal Creek, Scrubby Creek, Native Dog Creek and Molesworth are also on alert.
CFA spokesman Mark Glover says the winds will gradually push the smoke and flames towards those areas today.
"There's still basically a southerly flow, 20 to 25 kilometres per hour, so that should be OK to allow our fire fighters to get some tracks around those northern parts of the fire," he said.
"But nonetheless it will also promote some fire activity because it's still fairly dry."
"There is a threat alert, not an immediate threat, but a threat alert anyway."
East of Melbourne, threat alerts are also in place for the Black Range and Blue Range and the Yark and Caveat townships, where fires have been spotting.
Overnight firefighters conducted back-burning around the Maroondah Yarra complex burning east of Melbourne and worked on containment lines around the northern line of the Delburn fire complex and on blazes still burning around Healesville, Beechworth, Kilmore and Churchill.
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- Video: Forensic crews try and identify dead (ABC News)
- Video: Bushfire shock gives way to anger (Lateline)
- Video: Stories of survival emerge from the ashes (Lateline)
- Video: Bushfire death toll continues to rise (Lateline)
- Video: Rudd briefs Parliament on bushfire recovery effort (Lateline)
- Video: John Brumby joins Lateline (Lateline)