Suspect charged in deadly Australian fire

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February 13, 2009 09:05

 
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Authorities charged a man Friday with lighting one of Australia's deadly wildfires and whisked him into protective custody amid national fury that arsonists may be to blame in the blazes that left more than 180 people dead. Police said the man was charged with one count of arson causing death and lighting a wildfire near the town of Churchill, one of hundreds that raged through southeastern Victoria state last weekend, police said. He also was charged with possessing child pornography. More than 180 people died and more than 1,800 homes were destroyed in the blazes. The official toll for the Churchill fire is 21 dead. The suspect's identity was being kept secret for his own safety, Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Dannye Moloney told a news conference. He was brought from Morwell, near the fire zone, to the state capital of Melbourne, Moloney said.

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