THOUSANDS OF ACRES ABLAZE
DESTRUCTION OF RAETIHI.
PALMERSTON N., 19th March. A Manawatu Daily Times reporter motored from Palmerston to Taihape, and. reports that the country beUveen Mangaweka and Taihape was a mass of flames over thousands of acres, but settlers have gathered in most of the stock, and the damage is not likely to be great. Indeed, the country will be benefited to a laTge extent. Tho reporter was present when the refugees from Raetihi arrived at Taihape. Most of them were suffering severely from injury to . the eyes, and many were quite blind. They tell a moving story of their experiences. The fire swooped down on the town with extraordinary suddenness, propelled by a gale so fierce that motor-cars were blown. off the road, and burning r branches of trees wera flung in all directions for unbelievable distances, spreading the conflagration. The people, ter-ror-stricken, were putting up a good fight, but house after house was destroy•ed, including the Catholic and English "churches and residences, the Police Station, and some few isolated houses only were left standing aid still in danger. Many, women hid their children in culverts. Some lay on the ground for hours in blankets, breathing through wet handkerchiefs, and several stood knee-deep in creeks to escape the flames. .Several were badly scorched, and the majority have_ lost their all, and are in a pitiable condition, and .urgently need relief.
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