Destruction is evident all over

HEALESVILLE - Tyre tracks snake wildly through an ashen paddock, tracing the last desperate moments of one among at least 181 Australians who perished in the country's worst ever wildfires.

HEALESVILLE - Tyre tracks snake wildly through an ashen paddock, tracing the last desperate moments of one among at least 181 Australians who perished in the country's worst ever wildfires.

Their car, nothing more than an incinerated wreck, has come to rest against a scorched embankment, just metres away.

A fragment of blue and white police tape flutters nearby in the rising wind, gusts which bring thick plumes of dark smoke from the surrounding hills.

The sense of destruction is never far.

Like so many roads from Melbourne in almost every direction, the once-scenic winery drive through the Yarra Valley is littered with such scenes - cars engulfed by fires so intense they have levelled buildings, melted fences and road markers.

Police believe some of the fires which razed swathes of territory to the north of Melbourne last weekend, killing more than 200 people, were deliberately lit.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has vowed to track down the culprits, saying he would like to see them "rot in jail" if they are found guilty. - Sapa-AFP

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