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In Pictures: Australia's deadliest bushfires kill 171

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A fire truck moves away from out of control flames from a bushfire in the Bunyip Sate Forest near the township of Tonimbuk, 125 kilometers (78 miles) west of Melbourne, Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009. Walls of flame roared across southeastern Australia, razing scores of homes, forests and farmland in the sunburned country's worst wildfire disaster in a quarter century. (AP Photo) ** AUSTRALIA OUT **

A fire truck moves away from out of control flames from a bushfire in the Bunyip Sate Forest near the township of Tonimbuk, 125 kilometers (78 miles) west of Melbourne, Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009. Walls of flame roared across southeastern Australia, razing scores of homes, forests and farmland in the sunburned country's worst wildfire disaster in a quarter century. (AP Photo) ** AUSTRALIA OUT **

Anonymous

Police inspect a farm house destroyed by wildfires in Whittlesea, Australia,  Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. The deadliest wildfires in Australia's history burned people in their homes and cars and wiped out entire towns, officials discovered Monday as they reached farther into the fire zone. Suspicions that the worst wildfires ever to strike Australia were deliberately set led police to declare crime scenes Monday in towns incinerated by blazes, while investigators moving into the charred landscape discovered more bodies. The death toll stood at 130.(AP Photo/Trevor Pinder, POOL)

Police inspect a farm house destroyed by wildfires in Whittlesea, Australia, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. The deadliest wildfires in Australia's history burned people in their homes and cars and wiped out entire towns, officials discovered Monday as they reached farther into the fire zone. Suspicions that the worst wildfires ever to strike Australia were deliberately set led police to declare crime scenes Monday in towns incinerated by blazes, while investigators moving into the charred landscape discovered more bodies. The death toll stood at 130.(AP Photo/Trevor Pinder, POOL)

Trevor Pinder

Jane Cameron, left, and Greg Annand explain how they survived a fire that destroyed their home, in background, at the community of Kinglake West, north east of Melbourne, Australia Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. Officials believe arson may be behind at least some of the more than 400 fires that tore a destructive path across a vast swath of southern Victoria state over the weekend. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, Pool)

Jane Cameron, left, and Greg Annand explain how they survived a fire that destroyed their home, in background, at the community of Kinglake West, north east of Melbourne, Australia Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. Officials believe arson may be behind at least some of the more than 400 fires that tore a destructive path across a vast swath of southern Victoria state over the weekend. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, Pool)

Rick Rycroft

Police inspect Kinglake farm house destroyed by wildfires in Kingllake, Australia, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. The deadliest wildfires in Australia's history burned people in their homes and cars and wiped out entire towns, officials discovered Monday as they reached farther into the fire zone. Suspicions that the worst wildfires ever to strike Australia were deliberately set led police to declare crime scenes Monday in towns incinerated by blazes, while investigators moving into the charred landscape discovered more bodies. The death toll stood at 130.(AP Photo/Trevor Pinder, POOL)

Police inspect Kinglake farm house destroyed by wildfires in Kingllake, Australia, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. The deadliest wildfires in Australia's history burned people in their homes and cars and wiped out entire towns, officials discovered Monday as they reached farther into the fire zone. Suspicions that the worst wildfires ever to strike Australia were deliberately set led police to declare crime scenes Monday in towns incinerated by blazes, while investigators moving into the charred landscape discovered more bodies. The death toll stood at 130.(AP Photo/Trevor Pinder, POOL)

Trevor Pinder

A Whittlesea farm house destroyed by wildfires is seen in Whittlesea, Australia, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. The deadliest wildfires in Australia's history burned people in their homes and cars and wiped out entire towns, officials discovered Monday as they reached farther into the fire zone. Suspicions that the worst wildfires ever to strike Australia were deliberately set led police to declare crime scenes Monday in towns incinerated by blazes, while investigators moving into the charred landscape discovered more bodies. The death toll stood at 130. (AP Photo/Trevor Pinder, POOL)

A Whittlesea farm house destroyed by wildfires is seen in Whittlesea, Australia, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. The deadliest wildfires in Australia's history burned people in their homes and cars and wiped out entire towns, officials discovered Monday as they reached farther into the fire zone. Suspicions that the worst wildfires ever to strike Australia were deliberately set led police to declare crime scenes Monday in towns incinerated by blazes, while investigators moving into the charred landscape discovered more bodies. The death toll stood at 130. (AP Photo/Trevor Pinder, POOL)

Trevor Pinder

A car pulls a trailer full of goats, sheep and llamas away from the community of Kinglake West, north east of Melbourne, Australia Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. Officials believe arson may be behind at least some of the more than 400 fires that tore a destructive path across a vast swath of southern Victoria state over the weekend. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, Pool)

A car pulls a trailer full of goats, sheep and llamas away from the community of Kinglake West, north east of Melbourne, Australia Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. Officials believe arson may be behind at least some of the more than 400 fires that tore a destructive path across a vast swath of southern Victoria state over the weekend. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, Pool)

Rick Rycroft

A Whittlesea farm house destroyed by wildfires is seen in Whittlesea, Australia, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. The deadliest wildfires in Australia's history burned people in their homes and cars and wiped out entire towns, officials discovered Monday as they reached farther into the fire zone. Suspicions that the worst wildfires ever to strike Australia were deliberately set led police to declare crime scenes Monday in towns incinerated by blazes, while investigators moving into the charred landscape discovered more bodies. The death toll stood at 130. (AP Photo/Trevor Pinder, POOL)

A Whittlesea farm house destroyed by wildfires is seen in Whittlesea, Australia, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. The deadliest wildfires in Australia's history burned people in their homes and cars and wiped out entire towns, officials discovered Monday as they reached farther into the fire zone. Suspicions that the worst wildfires ever to strike Australia were deliberately set led police to declare crime scenes Monday in towns incinerated by blazes, while investigators moving into the charred landscape discovered more bodies. The death toll stood at 130. (AP Photo/Trevor Pinder, POOL)

Trevor Pinder

A burnt out house and a car are seen at the township of King Lake, north east of Melbourne, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll from the country's worst fire disaster in a quarter-century reached 65 on Sunday. (AP Photo/Stringer) AUSTRALIA OUT

A burnt out house and a car are seen at the township of King Lake, north east of Melbourne, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll from the country's worst fire disaster in a quarter-century reached 65 on Sunday. (AP Photo/Stringer) AUSTRALIA OUT

Anonymous

The remains of St. Andrew's church are scattered after it was destroyed by fire at the community of Kinglake, north east of Melbourne, Australia Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. Officials believe arson may be behind at least some of the more than 400 fires that tore a destructive path across a vast swath of southern Victoria state over the weekend. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, Pool)

The remains of St. Andrew's church are scattered after it was destroyed by fire at the community of Kinglake, north east of Melbourne, Australia Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. Officials believe arson may be behind at least some of the more than 400 fires that tore a destructive path across a vast swath of southern Victoria state over the weekend. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, Pool)

Rick Rycroft

An excavator moves a burned out car from the road near the community of Kinglake, north east of Melbourne, Australia Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. Officials believe arson may be behind at least some of the more than 400 fires that tore a destructive path across a vast swath of southern Victoria state over the weekend. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, Pool)

An excavator moves a burned out car from the road near the community of Kinglake, north east of Melbourne, Australia Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. Officials believe arson may be behind at least some of the more than 400 fires that tore a destructive path across a vast swath of southern Victoria state over the weekend. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, Pool)

Rick Rycroft

Men work to restore electricity at the community of Kinglake, north east of Melbourne, Australia Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. Officials believe arson may be behind at least some of the more than 400 fires that tore a destructive path across a vast swath of southern Victoria state over the weekend. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, Pool)

Men work to restore electricity at the community of Kinglake, north east of Melbourne, Australia Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. Officials believe arson may be behind at least some of the more than 400 fires that tore a destructive path across a vast swath of southern Victoria state over the weekend. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, Pool)

Rick Rycroft

A farm house destroyed by wildfires in Whittlesea, Australia, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. Suspicions that the worst wildfires ever to strike Australia were deliberately set led police to declare crime scenes Monday in towns incinerated by blazes, while investigators moving into the charred landscape discovered more bodies. The death toll stood at 130.(AP Photo/Trevor Pinder, POOL)

A farm house destroyed by wildfires in Whittlesea, Australia, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. Suspicions that the worst wildfires ever to strike Australia were deliberately set led police to declare crime scenes Monday in towns incinerated by blazes, while investigators moving into the charred landscape discovered more bodies. The death toll stood at 130.(AP Photo/Trevor Pinder, POOL)

Trevor Pinder

Police inspect a farm house destroyed by wildfires in Kinglake, Australia, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. Suspicions that the worst wildfires ever to strike Australia were deliberately set led police to declare crime scenes Monday in towns incinerated by blazes, while investigators moving into the charred landscape discovered more bodies. The death toll stood at 130. (AP Photo/Trevor Pinder, POOL)

Police inspect a farm house destroyed by wildfires in Kinglake, Australia, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. Suspicions that the worst wildfires ever to strike Australia were deliberately set led police to declare crime scenes Monday in towns incinerated by blazes, while investigators moving into the charred landscape discovered more bodies. The death toll stood at 130. (AP Photo/Trevor Pinder, POOL)

Trevor Pinder

Destroyed homes are seen in this image taken from television in Marysville, north of Melbourne, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. The deadliest wildfires in Australia's history burned people in their homes and cars and wiped out entire town, officials discovered as they reached farther into the fire zone. (AP Photo/Channel Nine via APTN) ** AUSTRALIA OUT **

Destroyed homes are seen in this image taken from television in Marysville, north of Melbourne, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. The deadliest wildfires in Australia's history burned people in their homes and cars and wiped out entire town, officials discovered as they reached farther into the fire zone. (AP Photo/Channel Nine via APTN) ** AUSTRALIA OUT **

Destroyed homes are seen in this image taken from television in Marysville, north of Melbourne, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. The deadliest wildfires in Australia's history burned people in their homes and cars and wiped out entire town, officials discovered as they reached farther into the fire zone. (AP Photo/Channel Nine via APTN) ** AUSTRALIA OUT TV OUT**

Destroyed homes are seen in this image taken from television in Marysville, north of Melbourne, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. The deadliest wildfires in Australia's history burned people in their homes and cars and wiped out entire town, officials discovered as they reached farther into the fire zone. (AP Photo/Channel Nine via APTN) ** AUSTRALIA OUT TV OUT**

Devastation is seen in this image taken from television in Marysville, north of Melbourne, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. The deadliest wildfires in Australia's history burned people in their homes and cars and wiped out entire town, officials discovered as they reached farther into the fire zone. (AP Photo/Channel Nine via APTN) ** AUSTRALIA OUT TV OUT **

Devastation is seen in this image taken from television in Marysville, north of Melbourne, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. The deadliest wildfires in Australia's history burned people in their homes and cars and wiped out entire town, officials discovered as they reached farther into the fire zone. (AP Photo/Channel Nine via APTN) ** AUSTRALIA OUT TV OUT **

Judy and Kevin Purtzel survey their property damaged by bushfires near Marysville, north of Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. The deadliest wildfires in Australia's history burned people in their homes and cars and wiped out entire towns, officials discovered Sunday as they reached farther into the fire zone. (AP Photo) ** AUSTRALIA OUT **

Judy and Kevin Purtzel survey their property damaged by bushfires near Marysville, north of Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. The deadliest wildfires in Australia's history burned people in their homes and cars and wiped out entire towns, officials discovered Sunday as they reached farther into the fire zone. (AP Photo) ** AUSTRALIA OUT **

Sheep search for any patch of fresh grass left after fire raged through the community of Kinglake, north east of Melbourne, Australia Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. Officials believe arson may be behind at least some of the more than 400 fires that tore a destructive path across a vast swath of southern Victoria state over the weekend. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, Pool)

Sheep search for any patch of fresh grass left after fire raged through the community of Kinglake, north east of Melbourne, Australia Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. Officials believe arson may be behind at least some of the more than 400 fires that tore a destructive path across a vast swath of southern Victoria state over the weekend. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, Pool)

Rick Rycroft

A dead horse that was trapped by raging fires lays at the side of the road near the community of Kinglake, north east of Melbourne, Australia Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. Officials believe arson may be behind at least some of the more than 400 fires that tore a destructive path across a vast swath of southern Victoria state over the weekend.(AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, Pool)

A dead horse that was trapped by raging fires lays at the side of the road near the community of Kinglake, north east of Melbourne, Australia Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. Officials believe arson may be behind at least some of the more than 400 fires that tore a destructive path across a vast swath of southern Victoria state over the weekend.(AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, Pool)

Rick Rycroft

Five years old Elana Watson reunites with her father in Whittlesea, Australia, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. Suspicions that the worst wildfires ever to strike Australia were deliberately set led police to declare crime scenes Monday in towns incinerated by blazes, while investigators moving into the charred landscape discovered more bodies. The death toll stood at 130. (AP Photo/Trevor Pinder, POOL)

Five years old Elana Watson reunites with her father in Whittlesea, Australia, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. Suspicions that the worst wildfires ever to strike Australia were deliberately set led police to declare crime scenes Monday in towns incinerated by blazes, while investigators moving into the charred landscape discovered more bodies. The death toll stood at 130. (AP Photo/Trevor Pinder, POOL)

Trevor Pinder

One wall stands above the rubble of a destroyed church at Kinglake northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 76 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

One wall stands above the rubble of a destroyed church at Kinglake northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 76 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

A fire truck drives past a destroyed church at Kinglake north east of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 76 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

A fire truck drives past a destroyed church at Kinglake north east of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 76 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

A fire erupts in a pine tree plantation northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

A fire erupts in a pine tree plantation northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

Firefighters work near Kinglake, northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Firefighters work near Kinglake, northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

A fire destroys equipment at a pine tree plantation near Kinglake, northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

A fire destroys equipment at a pine tree plantation near Kinglake, northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

Fires burn near a home near Kinglake, northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Fires burn near a home near Kinglake, northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

A ridgeline of burnt out homes lead to a house still standing near Kinglake, northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

A ridgeline of burnt out homes lead to a house still standing near Kinglake, northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

Small acreage is burned out in Kinglake, northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Small acreage is burned out in Kinglake, northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

A police helicopter surveys damage from fires northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

A police helicopter surveys damage from fires northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

Buildings and vehicles sit destroyed at Kinglake northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Buildings and vehicles sit destroyed at Kinglake northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

A house, top, is seen undamaged as three others lay destroyed in Kinglake, northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

A house, top, is seen undamaged as three others lay destroyed in Kinglake, northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

Burned out vehicles are stranded on a road after the occupants were stopped by flames in their efforts to escape fires northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Burned out vehicles are stranded on a road after the occupants were stopped by flames in their efforts to escape fires northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

Firefighters work northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Firefighters work northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

Firefighters fill their truck with water from a dam northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Firefighters fill their truck with water from a dam northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

Livestock are cornered in a burned out field northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Livestock are cornered in a burned out field northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

Smoke haze filters through hills northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Smoke haze filters through hills northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

This image provided by NASA shows a large plume of smoke spreading southward from a fire (outlined in red) that appears to be burning in a small area of forest west of Churchill in Victoria’s Gippsland region. The forest is dark green in contrast to the surrounding grass or cropland. Raging wildfires swept through southeastern Australia on Saturday Feb. 7, 2009 as gale force winds and scorching temperatures combined into a deadly inferno that killed at least 14 people, officials said. This image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite was captured on Jan. 30, 2009.(AP Photo/NASA)

This image provided by NASA shows a large plume of smoke spreading southward from a fire (outlined in red) that appears to be burning in a small area of forest west of Churchill in Victoria’s Gippsland region. The forest is dark green in contrast to the surrounding grass or cropland. Raging wildfires swept through southeastern Australia on Saturday Feb. 7, 2009 as gale force winds and scorching temperatures combined into a deadly inferno that killed at least 14 people, officials said. This image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite was captured on Jan. 30, 2009.(AP Photo/NASA)

This image provided by NASA, rendered Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009, shows a large plume of smoke spreading southward from a fire (outlined in red) that appears to be burning in a small area of forest west of Churchill in Victoria’s Gippsland region. Entire towns have been seared off the map by wildfires raging through southeastern Australia, burning people in their homes and cars in the deadliest blaze in the country's history. The number of dead Monday stood at 108, a grim toll that rose almost by the hour as officials reached further into the fire zone. (AP Photo/NASA)

This image provided by NASA, rendered Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009, shows a large plume of smoke spreading southward from a fire (outlined in red) that appears to be burning in a small area of forest west of Churchill in Victoria’s Gippsland region. Entire towns have been seared off the map by wildfires raging through southeastern Australia, burning people in their homes and cars in the deadliest blaze in the country's history. The number of dead Monday stood at 108, a grim toll that rose almost by the hour as officials reached further into the fire zone. (AP Photo/NASA)

This image provided by NASA shows a large plume of smoke spreading southward from a fire (outlined in red) that appears to be burning in a small area of forest west of Churchill in Victoria’s Gippsland region. The forest is dark green in contrast to the surrounding grass or cropland. Raging wildfires swept through southeastern Australia on Saturday Feb. 7, 2009 as gale force winds and scorching temperatures combined into a deadly inferno that killed at least 14 people, officials said. This image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite was captured on Jan. 30, 2009.(AP Photo/NASA)

This image provided by NASA shows a large plume of smoke spreading southward from a fire (outlined in red) that appears to be burning in a small area of forest west of Churchill in Victoria’s Gippsland region. The forest is dark green in contrast to the surrounding grass or cropland. Raging wildfires swept through southeastern Australia on Saturday Feb. 7, 2009 as gale force winds and scorching temperatures combined into a deadly inferno that killed at least 14 people, officials said. This image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite was captured on Jan. 30, 2009.(AP Photo/NASA)

Police car goes around a vehicle that has run into a fallen burnt tree near Kinglake, northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 76 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Police car goes around a vehicle that has run into a fallen burnt tree near Kinglake, northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 76 on Sunday, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

A fire erupts in a pine tree plantation northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

A fire erupts in a pine tree plantation northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

Buildings and vehicles sit destroyed at Kinglake northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Buildings and vehicles sit destroyed at Kinglake northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

A man overlooks fire damage at Kinglake north east of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

A man overlooks fire damage at Kinglake north east of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

A police officer surveys fire damage in Kinglake northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

A police officer surveys fire damage in Kinglake northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

A house, top, is seen undamaged as three others lay destroyed in Kinglake, northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

A house, top, is seen undamaged as three others lay destroyed in Kinglake, northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

A ridgeline of burnt out homes lead to a house still standing near Kinglake, northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

A ridgeline of burnt out homes lead to a house still standing near Kinglake, northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

Small acreage is burned out in Kinglake, northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Small acreage is burned out in Kinglake, northeast of Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. Towering flames have razed entire towns in southeastern Australia and burned fleeing residents in their cars as the death toll rose to 84, making it the country's deadliest fire disaster. At least 700 homes were destroyed in Saturday's inferno. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Rick Rycroft

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The death toll from Australia's rampaging wildfires has risen to 171 as police began investigating claims that some were started deliberately.

An emotional prime minister Kevin Rudd said if arson was proved it was "mass murder".

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Mr Rudd, visibly upset during a television interview, reflected the country's disgust. "What do you say about anyone like that?" he said. "There's no words to describe it, other than it's mass murder."

The country's top law officer, attorney general Robert McClelland, said that people found to have deliberately set fires could face murder charges.

More than one dozen fires are still burning uncontrollably across Victoria, although conditions are much cooler than on Saturday, which saw record-high heat and winds of up to 60 mph.

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At least 750 homes were destroyed and 850 square miles of land burned out.

Officials said both the death toll and destruction would almost certainly rise as they reached deeper into the disaster zone, and forecasters said temperatures would rise again later in the week, posing a risk of further flare-ups.

In a sign of the nationwide impact of the tragedy, Parliament suspended its normal sessions to hear condolence speeches from MPs. The voices of many quavered with emotion. Some called it Australia's worst peacetime disaster.

More than 4,000 people registered with the Australian Red Cross, which posted lists of names at some 20 emergency relief centres. At one centre in Wittlesea survivors scoured the lists looking for missing relatives.

Victoria Police Commissioner Christine Nixon said investigators had strong suspicions that at least one of the deadly blazes - known as the Churchill fire after a ruined town - was deliberately started. And it could not be ruled out for other fires.

Australia's previous deadliest fires were in 1983, when blazes killed 75 people and destroyed more than 3,000 homes in Victoria.

State Department of Sustainability and Environment spokesman Geoff Russell said: "Hell in all its fury has visited the good people of Victoria," Mr Rudd said.

"It's an appalling tragedy for the nation."

The town of Marysville and several hamlets in the Kinglake district, both about 50 miles north of Melbourne, were utterly devastated.

At Marysville, a winter tourism town that was home to about 800 people, up to 90% of buildings were in ruins, witnesses said. Police said two people died there.

Thousands of exhausted volunteer firefighters were still battling about 30 uncontrolled fires tonight in Victoria, officials said, though conditions had eased considerably. It would be days before they were brought under control, even if temperatures stayed down, they said.

A Number 10 spokesman said: "The Prime Minister spoke to Kevin Rudd this morning to extend our sympathies to the Australian people, especially those families who have been affected by this tragedy.

"He praised Kevin Rudd's leadership at this very difficult time, and said that the UK stood ready to provide any assistance that the Australian Government wanted."


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