Wildfires Kill 14 in Southeast Australia

Melbourne sees hottest day on record
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 7, 2009 7:30 AM CST

(Newser) – Australian wildfires have killed 14 people in the southeast, and police fear dozens more could be dead, the Age reports. Some 100 homes have been destroyed in dozens of fires, the worst in the history of the state of Victoria. Police suspect arson is behind some of the fires, which have been exacerbated by scorching heat. Nearby Melbourne had its hottest day on record at 115.5 degrees.

“Most places around the state will break all-time records,” said a forecaster. “This is an absolute tragedy for the state and we believe the figure may even get worse,” a deputy police commissioner said. Firefighters are attacking the blazes as aircraft drop water bombs on them, the BBC reports. “It is extremely dry. We do have some concern about the winds winds picking up and having an impact on the fire,” said a fire official.