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Police arrested a suspect Friday in connection to one of the deadly wildfires in southern Australia that killed more than 180 people and left about 7,000 homeless.
Police did not release any details about the suspect, but a newspaper report said he was a 39-year-old man who would likely be charged with arson causing death in what police call the Churchill fire.
At least 21 people died in that fire, one of hundreds that swept across Victoria state on Feb. 7, destroying more than 1,800 homes. The official death toll is 181 and is expected to exceed 200.
Officials have vowed to pursue murder charges against alleged arsonists if the evidence supports it.
Australian police arrest two arson suspects
Australian police have arrested two people suspected of starting one of the devastating bushfires in south-east Australia.
Police on Thursday released two men who had been taken in for questioning after they were reported acting suspiciously in an area burned out by last weekend's fires.
"There were no offenses detected," said a statement from Victoria police.
The man in the composite photo, who police say is in his early 20s and has a dark complexion, is believed to have information about a suspicious fire at Ivanhoe East, in Melbourne's north-east.
Man charged over Churchill fire
Release date: Fri 13 February 2009
Last updated: Fri 13 February 2009
Police have charged an adult man over a fire lit at Churchill on 7 February.
The man was arrested and interviewed at the Morwell Police Station.
He was charged with arson causing death, intentionally or recklessly lighting a bush fire and possess child pornography.
The man faced the Morwell Magistrate’s Court this afternoon and has been remanded to the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court on 16 February.
Operation Phoenix will continue to investigate a number of fires.
Press are reminded that there is a suppression order in existence that prohibits "publication of the name/address of the defendant or any picture or image of the defendant which may enable him to be identified".