10 Feb 2009, 9:44pm
Latest Fire News
by admin

Victoria fires: 80 missing, 181 dead, police chase arsonists

By staff writers, NEWS.com.au, February 11, 2023 [here]

POLICE are close to arresting an arsonist suspected of setting a blaze in Gippsland, as reports emerge that several fresh fires were deliberately lit in the Beechworth area overnight.

Victorian Premier John Brumby said he believed the 100 police officers in Taskforce Phoenix were “close to finalising investigations” into the south Gippsland fires which left 21 people dead.

He said it was virtually impossible to believe that people would be still lighting fires given the current situation.

It is believed police have a description of a car used by those allegedly responsible for the overnight blazes in Beechworth.

“There seems little doubt that these were deliberately lit. I think words escape us all when it comes to describing that deliberate arson,” he said.

Community shock and anger at arsonists have spread nationwide as the massive scale of death and destruction becomes known.

Whole towns are being treated as crime scenes as police hunt those responsible for deliberately lighting fires.

Up to 80 people are still missing in the Victoria fires as the official death toll continues to climb.

The toll climbed to 181 overnight but with dozens still unaccounted for it is expected to exceed 200.

Those missing were “people who the coroner believes are already deceased, but are not yet identified,” Mr Brumby said. … [more]

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