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UREWERA BUSH FIRE

SETTLEMENT THREATENED

SAVED BY RAIN

(By Telegraph.)

(Special to "The Evening Post.")

AUCKLAND, 19th December,

For three days and two nights a small band of residents at Euatauuna, in the Urewera County, unceasingly fought an extensive bush firo which "threatened to destroy the mission house at tho settlement and a number >t itiaoris' homes. The fire was the largest seen in tho district for over 20 years, and burned for over two weeks. It destroyed three buildings and a mile of bush along Botorua Lake ; and Waikaremoana road, as well as '^devastating a number of scenic spots : frequently visited by campers and "motorists. mission house at Ituatahuna, which is 78 miles from Eotorua, 'has been conducted for the past 16 years by Sister Annie, other Europeans in the settlement being the schoolmaster, Mr. S. Barr, his wife, a sister of the missioner, and Mrs. A. J. Johnson, of "Western Australia, who was on a. holiday visit to-New Zealand.. The firo broke out two weeks ago about a milo from tho mission as the Te3ult, it is believed, of a camp fire left by Maorin, who were catching eels in the stream. For several days no attention was paid to the outbreak, which continued to burn quietly, but one afternoon Sister Annie saw a terrified deer rush from the bush toward a pool in which 70 Maori children were bathing. She at once went to warn them of the danger, and found that a strong ■ wind had arisen, and that the fire was spreading rapidly. With the wind faniug the flames in the direction ot the settlement a number of buildings were "in danger, and all tho residents gathered to fight the outbreak. Maoris at once began to cut fire breaks to protect the mission property, 'while wet sacks were placed on the building to' ward ofE sparks which wero being driven in clouds by tho wind. A G-KEAT STRUGGLE. The efforts of the workers were continued all night, the women, both European and Native, assisting the men. After darkness fell, the spectacle was one of cruel beauty, the flames presenting a striking., pieturt as they leaped through the undergrowth and from tree to tree. Tho heat and smoke were at times almost overpowering, but the settlers continued their battle without respite all nest day, tho following night, and again, on tho third day. During this time, neither Sister Annie nor any of the other whit 6 residents had any sleep, continuing their efforts to protect the mission ' house, while .the 'Maoris kept working on the fire breaks and in suppressing small fires which had been started by sparks. Meals wero prepared hastily in. the mission and eaten under most difficult circumstances. On the third day, when the position appeared almost hopeless, the wind began to fall and rain set in, with the result that -the danger suddenly passed, although it was sonio time before tho fire finally died out. The homes of two Maoris were burned and another lost a store containing six bales of wool, the season's output of his property. A new Maori meeting house, recently constructed, was not in serious danger, as it stood some distance away across the'stream. The old meeting house, too, was not threatened.

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UREWERA BUSH FIRE Evening Post, Volume CXIV, Issue 148, 20 December 1932

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