UPDATE 10:07pm: THE death toll in Victoria’s worst ever bushfires has hit 84. TV veteran Brian Naylor has been confirmed dead.
At least 650 homes have been destroyed and 3733 people have registered with the Red Cross after evacuating their properties.
The number left homeless is expected to be far higher, the Red Cross says.
At 9pm the CFA said the state’s major bushfire information phone line – 1800 240 667 – has been swamped with calls.
Callers who get a busy signal are asked to be patient, hang up and try the number again. [Herald-Sun]
It has since been confirmed that Brian Naylor and his wife were indeed killed in the fires and authorities expect to find more bodies:
It has just been confirmed Naylor and his wife, Moiree, have been killed after Victoria’s single deadliest bushfire, the Kinglake Complex, razed their property on Saturday.
In a statement, Naylor’s lawyer John Beckwith, of Beckwith Cleverdon Rees, confirmed the news late tonight.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon confirmed the death toll includes at least four children.
“The sad part for me is to say to the community that there will be more deaths, we believe,” Ms Nixon said at a 6pm press conference at Moe Police Station.
“We will find more bodies as we gain access to different parts of the fire areas, where at the moment we just havn’t been able to get in.
“So far we have found people in cars, it looks like they have decided late to leave their premises.
“We have found people who have been in properties, in their paddocks.
“We’ve found others in their houses.
“It covers the whole range. And the sad part is that we found children. That is devastating for us.”
Ms Nixon said she was sickened by the fact some of the fires may have been deliberately lit. [Herald-Sun]
To make matters worse the CFA is saying that some of the fires they have put out are being restarted by arsonists!
So where are these fires still burning? Here is the most up to date map from Parks Victoria:
The Herald-Sun also has a very good interactive map showing where the fires are still burning as well.
Marysville is destroyed after the bushfire.
One of these fires really hit home because the township of Marysville which is about an hour from my home in Australia has been wiped out:
Marysville, a former gold rush town that was home to about 800 people 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of Melbourne, was almost completely wiped out.
“Marysville is no more,” Senior Constable Brian Cross told The Associated Press as he manned a checkpoint Sunday in nearby Healesville on a road leading into the town. No deaths were reported in Marysville, but police sealed it off because they feared bodies would be found there.
Television footage from Marysville showed a scene of utter devastation: house after house was a smoking ruin, with wooden beams in cinders, piles of blackened bricks and iron roofing sheets twisted in the heat. The police station, schoolhouse and pub were gutted. Burned-out cars littered the streets. [Associated Press]
Marysville is one of the favorite places for my wife and I to visit on the weekends and have even contemplated retiring there one day. However, that is no more as these beautiful little town has been wiped out. To make this tragedy even more painful is that the town may have destroyed by a bushfire started by an arsonist.
Downtown Marysville before the bushfires.
The South Australian Premier has now gone on record saying that these arsonists should be classified as terrorists:
SOUTH Australian Premier Mike Rann has labelled arsonists “terrorists” as authorities vow to “throw the book” at anyone found responsible for the deadly bushfires that have devastated Australia.
The Victorian death toll had risen to 76 after emergency crews discovered scores of bodies at townships northwest of Melbourne, ravaged by fire.
Twenty-six fires were burning in Victoria taking lives and property, and another 53 were burning throughout NSW.
“We have our suspicions in some instances but really we do need to get to the position where we can get our investigators and our forensic scientists into the fire scenes to do a full, thorough investigation, see what evidence can be uncovered which will confirm or deny for us how these fires have originated,” he said.
One of Mr Walshe’s colleagues said arsonists could be charged with murder or manslaughter depending on available evidence. [AAP]
I agree, throw the book at these people and call them what they are, terrorists because the entire state is currently being terrorized by these bushfires.
Here are few TV news reports on the bushfires in Australia.
These bushfires are obviously tragic and here is what you can do to help those affected by these fires:
How you can help
To donate to the Red Cross State Government Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund:
* Visit www.redcross.org.au * Phone 1800 811 700
* Any NAB, ANZ, Westpac or Commonwealth Bank branch
* Any Bunnings store
* By direct deposit to the Victorian Bushfire Relief Fund – BSB 082-001, Account number 860-046-797
Myer Bushfire Appeal
* All proceeds to the Salvation Army. Donate at any Victorian Myer store.
Let us hope that plenty of people donate money to help everyone affected by these fires. Likewise everyone pray for rain as coolor weather has already rolled in today. If ever there was a time for a massive down pour in Victoria, now is the time because I am just so saddened to see my beloved Victoria go up in flames like this.