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Victoria Bushfires Kill Up to Possibly 40 People

Victoria this summer has gone from massive amounts of rain to now a scorching heat wave that has now become deadly as arsonists have been linked to starting some of the deadly bushfires across the state:

BREAKING NEWS AT least 14 people are dead and hundreds of houses destroyed by a wave of bushfires – some deliberately lit.

And the death toll is expected to climb much higher today, possibly into the 40s, as authorities begin to assess some of the most horrific blazes the state has even seen.

Victoria was last night in a state of emergency as 10 major bushfires raged.

All of the confirmed deaths were in rugged bushland, within 60km north east of Melbourne.

Anyone concerned about family or friends in fire areas should call the CFA on 1800 727 077.

Do you know more? Contact us at 9292 2963. Send your photos to pics@heraldsun.com.au

Deputy Commisioner Kieran Walshe last night confirmed six people had perished in fires at King Lake, four died at Wandong, three at Strathewen and one at Clonbinane.

He said the body count could extend into the 40s because rescue crews had only been able to get into the fringe areas of the worst hit towns.   [Herald-Sun]

Kinglake is just north of Melbourne and is populated with many homes.  Further north from there is Wandong, Mt. Disappointment, and Murrindindi are where more of these deadly fires are burning.

Bushfires burn outside Melbourne

To the West in Bendigo and Horsham other fires are burning that in Bendigo alone has claimed 50 homes.

Bushfire in Bendigo claims this mans home.

The Herald-Sun has a good run down on the property damage and deaths caused by the fires:

UPDATE 1.35am VICTORIA’S firefighting resources are stretched to the limit as more than 3000 firefighters try to save homes across the state.

Fighting the fires

Deaths:
Six in Kinglake
Four at Wandong
Three at Strathewen
One in Clonbinane

Police fear the toll may reach the 40s

Losses:
At least 100 houses

Fighting the fires
Fire fighters: 3,192 (552 DSE, 2500 CFA, 140 MFB)
Fire vehicles: 342 (142 DSE, 200 CFA)
Bulldozers: 23
Aircraft: 37

Weather:
State max 47.9 at Avalon
Melbourne max 46.4
winds up to 116km/h at Swan Hill

Fires:

KILMORE

Fourteen killed in Kinglake, Wandong, Strathewen and Clonbinane, northwest of Melbourne.

More than 60 houses reported to be lost

At least 30,000 hectares burnt out, started around 4km east of Kilmore and winds pushed it 30km to the east through Whittlesea, Wandong and into Kinglake. Was also threatening Broadford late Saturday night.

Communities under direct threat include Broadford, Broadford East in the area of O’Gradys Road, South of Broadford, Broadford-Wondong/Sunday Creek Road, Reedy Creek and Tyaak.

HORSHAM

At least three houses, the Horsham Golf Club, several sheds and a Dimboola Fire Brigade truck destroyed.

Fires at Remlaw burnt out more than 5,700 hectares with urgent threat messages issued for the communities of Haven, McKenzie Creek, Bungalally and Green Lake to the west of Horsham City.

Fire jumped the Western Highway and impacted Drung Drung in Horsham’s east.

Threat downgraded by 8pm.

CHURCHILL

Potential threat to Loy Yang power station and also to communities of Devon North, Yarram and Langsbrough on the Gippsland coast. Ripped through 600ha of pine forests in one hour.

BUNYIP

Broke containment lines overnight, forcing ground attack firefighters to retreat.

Residents evacuated from nursing homes, reports of house lost in Labertouche, ember attacks also on Garfield North, Tonimbuk, Robin Hood, Drouin West, Buln Buln, Tarago, Jindivick, Jindivick North, Longwarry, Longwarry North and Drouin.

At 7pm an urgent threat message was issued for the communities of Nilma, Darnum and Warragul because of ember attack and heavy smoke.

DARGO

Alpine fire in East Gippsland approximately 650ha in size. While not initially a direct threat to property, the communities of Bullumwaal, Mount Taylor, Clifton and Sarsfield were on alert.

COLERAINE

One man trying to move stock suffers burns to 50 per cent of his body.

Fire crossed the Princes Highway between Danedite Road and Johnstons Road, heading northeast towards Pomborneit North also threatening residents of Scollers Road, Carters Roads Settlement and Swan Marsh.

At 6pm fire was said to be contained. Fire burnt through 770 hectares.

REDESDALE

A grass fire that started 9km west of Redesdale, south of Lake Eppalock, is estimated to be over 10,000 hectares in size.

The fire has spread approximately 10km in a southeasterly direction to
Annex Lane south of Sidonia.

Residents of Baynton, Glenhope and in the vicinity of Franklins Road, Randalls Lane, Dead Dog Lane and Heathcote Spring Plains

Road may be impacted directly by this fire, which is now burning in a northeasterly direction.

Two hundred and thirty-five CFA and DSE personnel are fighting the fire, using 43 tankers and 3 bulldozers.

MURRINDINDI

The Murrindindi Mill fire in the Mount Despair State Forest burning in a northeasterly direction.

Communities of Taggerty, Acheron, Thornton, Rubicon, Snobs Creek, Eildon, Alexandra and Molesworth warned to remain on high alert.


YARRA GLEN

30ha fire threatens vineyards.

WANDONG

Grass & scrub fire burning 1km south of Wandong.

Estimated to cover over 1,000ha.

Communities of Wandong, Wallan, Wallan East, Eden Park and Whittlesea, Humevale, Bruces Creek, Upper Plenty, Kinglake West, Pheasant Creek, Smiths Gully, Kinglake, Flowerdale, Glenburn and Hurstbridge under threat.

This map published on the Parks Victoria webpage gives a good indication of where these fires are burning:

The Park website also provides good updates on the status of the fires with many of them now considered controlled such as the one in Bendigo.  However, the fires in Horsham, Kilmore, Murrindindi, some to the East of Melbourne have not been controlled yet.

With so many fires happening at once, arson has been suspected.  It is currently unclear how many of these fires were started by arsonists but authorities have issued an alert looking for information on two suspected arson cases:

Victorian police are appealing for information from the public as they search for an arsonist believed responsible for the 6,500-hectare fire in the state’s east which has destroyed homes.

Police say they had been investigating deliberately lit fires in the Latrobe Valley and the surrounding Gippsland area before the Delburn Complex fire took hold late last week.

About six fires have broken out in the past 24 hours and while lightning is believed to be the cause of four of them, it is suspected an arsonist may be behind two.

Police are waiting for fire conditions to ease further before investigators can thoroughly inspect the area where the blaze is believed to have started.

Hopefully they can catch whoever is starting some of these fires because it is bad enough when mother nature starts fires, authories don’t need to be combating fires started by arsonists as well.

For more pictures of the fires the Herald-Sun has an on-line gallery up as well as The Age.

Let’s all pray that no more lives are lost or homes destroyed in these tragic fires.

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