New arson attacks suspected as Australian fires rage

Australian police investigated fresh arson attacks and looting today as angry survivors pressed for access to towns devastated by wildfires.

Written by Agencies | Yea (australia) | Published: February 11, 2009 6:09:51 pm

Australian police investigated fresh arson attacks and looting today as angry survivors pressed for access to towns devastated by wildfires that continue to burn across vast areas.

Victoria State Premier John Brumby said there was “little doubt” that fires had been deliberately lit overnight in the state where at least 181 people — and possibly more than 200 — died in blazes at the weekend.

“I think words escape us all when it comes to describing that deliberate arson,” he said.

State police commissioner Christine Nixon said investigators were closing in on an arsonist blamed for lighting a fire in the Gippsland region,in the state’s east,which killed about 20 people.

As police continue the largest arson investigation in Australia’s history,fire-fighters raised concerns about looters picking through the remains of abandoned properties in a disaster zone about the size of Luxembourg.

“We have had some reports of looting and certainly some (fire-fighting) volunteers and citizens who have told us that they have seen strange people in their neighbourhoods,” Nixon said.

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