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AND BLACKENED,, STOCK SUFFEBING. DESTRUCTIVE BOSH FlBEg. [By Otjb Spbciai, Repobtes.3 MASTERTON, This Dfty. The- thermometer showed B5 degrees in the shade here at 10 -o'clock' yesterday morning. At midday it -wa* several points higher, and the heat in! the) sun must have been folly 130 degrees. . Mnwterton, and the district surrounding it, has been experiencing this sort of weather for many days now. Tfca country is, parched almost beyond t*. lief, and one could easily imagine that he was In the tropics. Practkajly, tho. same condition of things rule* throughout the Wairarajja. ~ •j-SFrbm Feathc-rston to Carterton the whols conntry side lias assumed a cretmywhit© appearance. Nature; i$ ' til© words of the "expressive America^ h*« literally "leaked out of lh« iwwUppe," and stocky must be suffering considerably for lack of pasture. The writer, who made ithe trip from Wellington to »Masterton by train on Saturday,, has rarely seen ths country in need of rain. x* is tho' ssme all *loilg v tho line. The sun and the Bush .fires are supreme/ rulers for the time being. A BIG FIRE. At Mungaroa'n big bush fire could be seen to the right of the railway line, siowly eating its way through a fine block of standing timber. Great white clouds curled lazily out of th%. dense foliage of the native .trots. Nothing ' .out rain Cjtrf " "stop l the progress of -the flames!" ■" fasting through Fe&thereton,*ad th&,tfoun- ► try as far Jiortli as 'Oarterioa; -Sheep were noticed panting in tho heat. " The rattle of the express did not concern them in the least. All they appeared capable of doing wns to stupidly -poke* their heads under- the bodies of their nearest neighbours, and await the cool shades of evening. v Away to' the west of Carterton a black cloud linked the mountains and, the skyline." ' For "some miles blobs of flam^ - shone ont in the sickly-looking smoke. The fire had taken complete possession, and it is reported in town that numbers of sheep have been destroyed. "^ In a way, however, the fire here has a certain, value. The timber .that is being slowly consumed is mostly prostrate and rotten logs, Which have loa^ since fallen to the axeman's hap.d r <. But much valuable grass is being destroyed, , and settlers 'are having an anxious time. A SERIOUS FIRE. '-" , further north matters^ are more serious. On Friday afternoon Coradina and Whittaker's sawmill, at Alouiit Bruce, was totally destroyed by. fire. When Tho Post representative visited the place yesterday nothing remained but a few sheets of galvanised iron, v and the iron portions of the' machinery. -Tho mill was situated .in "a, valley, surrounded by dead timber, with 'a, valuablp patch of "milling -bush to tha cast. The greater portion of tho timber in this district has b.een rat out, but the ground for miles ' around J s . strewn with logs, and when ■ the "burn"» i started early v this week the flames simply racsd- over the- country. They crept up to the mill on Thursday, but the pmpk>yees formed a "bucket brigade," and triumphed for ' ijio , moment. On Friday, however, -another fight had^to be made, but the attempt' to save the mill was hopeless. Five huts were also destroyed. Judging by the account given by one of,, the men, all hands had an. anxious' time./ Clothe*, ' any furniture , worth saving, harness, and other portable goods weje promptly' buried in holes dug in the ground about the huts and along the roadside. In this way the mill hands managed to save a good deal of taeir eftpcts. j When the flames had travelled into' the stand-" , ing bush to the east of the sawmill the "buried treasures" were disinterred and transferred to a gravel pit at a safer point-, along the road, ' Messrs. Coradine and Whittaker ' weret uninsured and estimate their loss at £2000. FURTHER KORTH— FARMERS LOSE HEAVILY. At Maurice>ille yesterday I was informed that a settler, ' Mr. Isaacson, had lost about one hundred and fifty sheep in the fire on his land. Damage to tho extent of over £200 has been' done on Mr. F. A. Sheath's farm in the HaslAvell district, while the creamery at Hasfcwell, recently tenanted by the N.Z. Farmers' Dairy Union, was burnt down. Three whares'in the vicinity were also consumed in the flames, as veil as large areas of grats and miles of fences. Mr. N. Petersen, of Hastwell, is another loser by the fire. On Thursday he Had to light to save his house and outbuildings. The names of other farmeis who have suffered considerable losses might bo mentioned. ,At the time of writing it is difficult to estimate the extent of the damage. Many settlers took- the precaution of mustering .their sheep but only a count can show how many have been lost. In one or- two instances it is stated . the flocks had to be left to take their chance. A STRIKING SCENE. For miles tho stump-covered -hills are bathed in smoke, which is curling up in all directions. The flames can be seen climbing up the blacked trunks of "trees long since dead. Along the road side through Kapuroro little jots of flames , are stealing through tho parched grass for miles'. You can soe sheep hopping about amongst/ the logs, dodging the fire, and hunting for a solitary blado of green gi-ass. The most prosporouslooking vegetation seen to-day in a drive extending over about 50 miles of country was a patch of Californian thistles! Yet farmers— at least many .of ■ thornare hopeful. The fires to the northwest of Masterton aro not 60- bad now as they were a couple of days ago, and stock should still be able to eke" out an existence in tho majority of cases if rain comes in a reasonable tinio. Many of the fires have 'been '' intentional "burns," but unfortunately some have travelled farther than was anticipated aud great damage has resulted. THE LOWER VALLEY DISTRICT. ' Reports from tho Lower Valley district state that large areas of grass fiave been destroyed. Mr. P. Waham's woolshed, at Mungatarerft, has hecn. burnt down and fences have also* been destroyed ia many places. In"* many places the outlook is a very "glooms one. THE CROPS-CUTTING OATS ON SUNDAY. The oat crops seen along the route taker by The Tost rei>resent«tiv» through . the north Masterton district to-day are sickly looking in the extreme. Many of them will not pay for cutting. Some have already been cut and stacked ; some are still green; some are golden ripe, and would thresh to ft grain in a fresh wind. Tho farmer, notwithstanding that his j-ield on the wholo will be yerj^ small, evidently

Recognises this. Yesterday (Sunday) xhree reapers and binders were seen at work not twelve milesi from Masterton. 'in one- paddock a man and a woman .were sepn following the binder "stooking" tho sheaves. f he fanner is not 'taking any risks. He does not want to see his oats "shaken" or destroyed by fire while it is still standing. When there is only stubble to contend with his chance of extinguishing a fire, if one should break out, is enhanced 90 per cent. On Thursday afternoon an extensive grass fire occurred in tho Oxford district. It started on Mr. J. Wotherspoon's farm, and after destroying most of his feed and about ninety sheep, spread to Messrs Bassett Bros.' Burnt llill Estate/, where, fanned by a brisk south-wester, it burned over several hundreds of acres, doing a considerable amount of damage. It also reached Mr. Smith grazing farm, and there did a good deal of damage, including the destruction of some sheep. THE FOREST AT SILVERSTREAM. Government may bo dilatory, but fires waste no time. Last week the authorities were reminded that the bush m the reserve at Silverstream was in peril, and if was said that men would be sent «p to save the trees and the shrubs from the flames. The workers have not yet arrived, .and in the meantime the fire has been busy. Yesterday it attacked a pretty fern gully and the beautiiu' greens were soon passing into' blackness. Unless prompt action is taken irreparable damag© will be done. By night the valley looks liko a populous city. The fires do not glare .out greatly at any particular point ; the iltfpes of the hills arc dotted with bright spots, like tho lighted windows of settlers' homes. SETTLERS' HOMES DESTROYED. NARROW ESCAPE OF THE OCCUPANTS. WIDE AREA DANNEVIRKE, 11th January. The Waione correspondent of the Davy Press telegraphs that great damage has been done by bush fires. On Friday night Mr. Peck's four-roomed house was destroyed. Early this morning a son of Mr. M' Hardy's was awakened by the window of his room falling in, and Mr. M'Hardy and his family, had to make a hasty retreat'in their night clothes. The house, which contains seven rooms was destroyed. The bush fires extend right, from 'Waione to Pongaroa, and it is dangerous to travel in -the district. Settlers round iWaione township are fighting the fires. * DROUGHT IN THE SOUTH. CHRISTCHURCH, This Day. Nor for many years has there been so prolonged rainless weather in Canterbury as thip season, and eaqh successive day appears warmer than its immediate predecessor. The crops throughout the province have reached a stage when rain can do but little good beyond assisting to |fill the bite-sown wheat; hvx, for turnips, rape, pastures, and gaidens a copious downpour is urgently needed, and it is also needed to save the gr-een crops and ensure feed for winter use. In many parts of Canterbury the hot weather has literally cooked the fruit on the trees, and it is certain that the season's yield will h& substantially reduced as a result of the unfavourable climatic conditions.

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SWEPT BY FIRE. UNDER THE SMOKE CLOUDS 1H THE BUSH., Evening Post, Volume LXXV, Issue 10, 13 January 1908

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SWEPT BY FIRE. UNDER THE SMOKE CLOUDS 1H THE BUSH. Evening Post, Volume LXXV, Issue 10, 13 January 1908

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