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SERIOUS BUSH FIRES

SAWMILL DESTROYED AT AKATARAWA

V 7— ' PROPERTY AT THE MERCY OF THE FLAMES.

The position with regard to bush fires around Wellington is becoming increasingly serious. With the continuance of the dry spell every day brings* news of ■. fresh outbreaks. On Wednesday last Akatarawa was the scene of one of the most disastrous bush fires experienced in this district for some considerable time. About a fortnight ago some i>ush caught fire on. a property adjacent to Baigent Bros.' sawmill, which is situated some ten miles from Upper Hutt. 'The flames had a good hold when discovered, but as they were beating up against the southerly wind they made comparatively, slow'progress. On Wednesday morning, however, the wind changed to the north) and from then onward the fire swept along with terrific force, " destroying everything in its path. Despite the utmost endeavours, it was impossible to check the onslaught of the flames, and it was not long before the sawmill and a number of whares had been levelled to the ground. Nothing could be saved. Five bridges about two chains in. length, and some small bridges were swept away in. smoke, quantities of tramline, a hauling engine, and the motor supply were all completely destroyed. The fire ate its way unmercifully into ft© bush and destroyed vast quantities of valuable timber. It is also feared that a number of sheep and cattle must have perished in the flames, although nothing definite can yet be stated as to numbers. At late, advices the fire was still raging, and it is feared that further damage will result. Speaking to a Post reporter, Messrs. Leonard and Martin Baigent, who hav-e suffered so heavily as the result of the fire, stated that they estimated their total loss at from £6000 to £6000. The property covers in all about 2,300 acres, and, speaking roughly, the bush on one half of this has been destroyed. It is estimated that the tramline, which was used for carrying timber from the bush to the mill, is destroyed a distance of about one mile. Apart from tfie damage mentioned all the winter feed was destroyed, and to replace this will cost about £1000 for grass, seed alone. In * - consequence of the feed being destroyed Baigent Bros, will be compelled to sell all their' sheep 'and cattle,'and seeing that the fire has eaten into so much of the bush it is unlikely that the mil] will be re-erected. The loss is all the more severe insofar as none of the property was insured.

Baigents' gawmUl, which was a wellknown landmark in the Akatarawa district, was situated aboutsix miles from the new bridge at Maori Bank. Naturally enough it was practiclly surrounded by bush, and the fa.ct that it was im- • possible to save the building is not at all surprising. The original building was destroyed'by fire some two or three' years ago. When working at full pressure the mill had a capacity of about 8000 feet per day, but m consequence of the . war and the resultant shortage of labour the output fell considerably short,of this ' figure.

When you see the Fire Brigade rushing along the stTeet, think of the British Dominions General Insurance Company, Pwiama-street. They cover all tosses by fire. —Advfc.

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SERIOUS BUSH FIRES Evening Post, Volume XCIII, Issue 66, 17 March 1917

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