15 Feb 2009

Marysville residents return to see destruction

6:04 am on 15 February 2009

Marysville residents have taken a bus ride to the town for the first time since it was destroyed in last Saturday's bushfire.

There were tears and hugs from the residents who have lost loved ones and friends. Nearly all of the town's residents have lost their homes.

It is feared as many as 100 people might have been killed in Marysville, one fifth of the town's residents.

Residents, many of whom have been sleeping in a recreational hall in nearby Alexandra, were told they had to show ID papers, stay on the bus and would be forbidden from taking photos of the town.

The town is still being treated as a crime scene with the number of people killed there yet to be released as police forensic investigators work through the rubble.

Bushfires still burning in Victoria

Firefighters are still battling 19 bushfires across Victoria. But none are threatening property.

At least 181 people died in the fires last Saturday. More than 1800 houses have been destroyed and 450,000 hectares of land have been burned.

About 7000 people are homeless and the death toll is expected to rise.

The ABC reports favourable weather conditions this weekend are expected to assist fire fighters.

The main concern is around Alexandra and Healesville, north-east of Melbourne, where crews are working on containment lines.

The Country Fire Authority says the Kinglake complex of fires is still causing concern and 60 bulldozers are building fire breaks in high risk areas, including Healesville.

The Department of Sustainability and Environment says special attention is being paid to the Yea-Murrindindi fire to the north-east of Melbourne.

Meanwhile, a man has been charged over one fire at Churchill-Jeeralang.

He was charged on Friday with arson causing death, deliberately lighting a bushfire, and possessing child pornography.

Haze over city

People in Melbourne are being warned that a smoke haze covering the city will stay for much of the weekend.

The city has been shrouded in haze since Friday, as south-easterly winds pushed smoke towards the city.

The weather bureau says the smoke will hang around for Sunday.