MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Authorities are trying to protect a
suspect from public anger after charging him today with lighting
one of the Australian wildfires.
Police said the suspect was charged with one count of arson
causing death and intentionally lighting a wildfire near the town
of Churchill that killed at least 21 people. In all, at least 181
people died in the fires, hundreds of which raged through
southeastern Victoria state Feb. 7. The fires left 7,000 people
homeless and destroyed entire towns.
The suspect also was charged with possessing child pornography.
His identity is being kept secret for his own safety.
Officials say they still expect the final death toll to pass
More than 1,800 homes and 1,500 square miles of forests and
farms were burned.