Australian bush fires: Man arrested over blaze1 that killed 21

Australian police have arrested a man in relation to one of the deadly bush fires, in Gippsland, that have devastated the state of Victoria.

By Bonnie Malkin in Melbourne
Last Updated: 7:37AM GMT 13 Feb 2009

Australian bush fires: Australia has tough sentences2 for lighting bush fires, with arsonists3 facing up to 25 years in prison Photo: EPA

The suspect was being questioned over the Churchill-Jeeralang blaze4 in Gippsland, which has killed at least 21 people.

He was expected to be charged5 shortly, but police would not comment on reports that the suspect was a 39-year-old man from the town of Churchill, east of Melbourne.

The arrest comes one day after Simon Overland, police deputy commissioner, said police were searching for a "serial arsonist" operating in Gippsland.

Police have also released a photofit6 of a man they want to speak to in relation to another suspicious fire in Ivanhoe, in Melbourne's northeastern fringes7.

Kevin Rudd, the prime minister, has warned anyone found guilty8 of deliberately lighting fires in the past week had committed “mass murder”.

Australia has tough sentences for lighting bush fires, with arsonists facing up to 25 years in prison. But arson experts have warned that securing a conviction can be very difficult because any evidence was likely to be incinerated by the fire9.

Despite the cooler weather, two fires were threatening10 homes in Victoria, with residents coming under “ember attack11” from the flames.

Country Fire Authority (CFA) strike teams were throwing “everything we’ve got”12 at the blazes, which were advancing on Toolangi and Healesville. Some Healesville residents have been evacuated while others were preparing to leave.

The death toll13 from the fires stands at 181, but could rise above 200. It is estimated that more than 1800 homes have been destroyed and 400,000 hectares ravaged by the fires.

The CFA was taking advantage of the milder temperatures and lighter winds to back-burn14 before the weather warms up again next week

1plus de feu?

2a des peines sévères / prononcé des peines sévères ?



5facturés / condamné

6portrait robot?



9I can understand each word but not the whole phrase...



12Ont donné tout ce qu'ils pouvaient