Australian police have charged a man with “arson causing death” over one of the country’s deadly bushfires.
The reports said the man was charged with lighting a fire, which killed at least 21 people, near the town of Churchill in the state of Victoria.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has described Australia’s deadliest bushfires as “mass murder”.
At least 181 people were killed as the fires swept through Victoria in south-east Australia at the weekend.
Reports that a suspect had been arrested first appeared in The Age newspaper and were later confirmed to several media by a police spokesperson.
The newspaper said the man is 39 years old and is from Churchill.
Victoria Police Commissioner Christine Nixon said a fire in Churchill – about 140km (90 miles) south-east of Melbourne – was deliberately started.
She added that it was possible a devastating blaze that killed at least 15 people in the town of Marysville was also the work of arsonists.
Police have said murder by arson carries a maximum 25-year jail penalty.
Meanwhile, two men questioned earlier on Thursday in connection with allegations of looting in a fire-hit area were released without charge, according to local media reports quoting police.
Fire fighters are still trying to battle at least a dozen different blazes.
The tally of homes destroyed is now more than 1,800, and the number of people left homeless more than 7,000.
The Australian government plans to hold a national day of mourning and has promised to remove bureaucratic hurdles that have prevented the creation of a nationwide fire alert system.
Meanwhile, more than 150 actors, sports stars, politicians and musicians have taken part in a fundraising telethon.