Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Monday the deliberate lighting of bushfires amounts to "mass murder".
He made the remarks while meeting victims of the deadly fires in Victoria. More than 135 people have been killed by the deadliest bushfires in the nation's history over the past three days, and the figures of fire victims are still climbing.
Rudd said that communities wiped out by the fires would be rebuilt and anyone involved in setting such fires had blood on their hands.
"What do you say about anyone like that - there are no words to describe it other than mass murder," Rudd told the Nine Network, adding "This is of a level of horror that few of us anticipated."
He also said Australia had become used to disasters involving Australians overseas such as the Bali bombings, but now tragedy had struck on a large scale at home.
Six hundred soldiers would help erect shelters for people left homeless by the fires, while Centrelink would make immediate cash payments to fire victims.
"These are just starts, and I say this to the people of Victoria: Australia is with you and we're going to rebuild these communities with a combined national effort," he said.