Now officially Australia’s worst ever bushfire the flames have claimed over 130 lives, wreaked untold ecological damage and show no signs of ending soon.
The weekend proved the tipping point as fires that had been burning for weeks were suddenly whipped into savagery by changing winds that sent firestorms left and right through built-up areas.
Police in Victoria, the hardest-hit state, now say some fires appear to have been started deliberately.
Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was rendered almost speechless by the revelation, saying those who had started the blazes were “mass murderers.”
The city of Melbourne is battling to save its suburbs but for some other towns and villages it is too late; they have been reduced to cinders and wiped off the map.
With the inferno denying firefighters access in many devastated areas, the authorities fear the death toll will rise once they can enter them. The army is now being mobilised to help the exhausted fire services.