14 Feb 2009

Marysville residents to make brief return home

10:01 am on 14 February 2009

Residents of Marysville, Victoria, will able to visit what is left of their burned-out town for the first time on Saturday.

But there are heavy restrictions on their movements.

The entire town is designated a crime scene.

They will be aboard a fleet of shuttle buses, accompanied by counsellors and police officers. But they will not be allowed off and will be told they cannot take photos, even from inside the vehicles.

Police on Friday confirmed the fire that razed Marysville a week ago was being treated as suspicious. It started in the vicinity of the Murrindindi Mill last Saturday.

Up to 100 of Marysville's 500 residents are believed to have perished.

The bushfires in Victoria have so far claimed at least 181 lives, destroyed 1,834 houses and burned 413,000 hectares.

The death toll surpasses the number who died in bushfires on Ash Wednesday, 16 February, 1983, when 75 people died and 71 in 1939.