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THE BUSH FIRES.

SETTLERS HAVE A HARD FIGHT.

FURTHER DETAILS AS TO DAMAGE.

(From a Rdverlea Correspondent.) On Saturday last a great bush fire started laging on the Upper Mangawherb road, and by Wednesday had reached as far as the Eltham toad, doing a great deal of da/mage to grass, which was very dry, burning a number of haystacks, and destroying fences and any split timber, to say nothing of thousands )ot feeiof valuable fencing and firewood timber. The fir© is caid to have originated op the Rowan road, the strong njor'-wester carrying the spark's from' the burning toga across to Messrs XhiramVand Wellington's, • and thence over to^he Mahga'whero itoaiL On Sunday , night tflie fire fight commenced on this road and continued till Wednesday morning, when the fire in this pars had practically burnt itself out. Throughout Sunday* night a greatl struggle was gfoing on at Messrs Anderson'si, O'Neill's,' ' Baxter's; 'and Soifey'a. £t ' Anderson's ' the ' timber, which "was pretty thick, caused great danger all round &© henwe and sheds, 1 ! but by determined fighiing were saved, though haystack was buint in sjpifce, of al| efforts to say© it. 'The smoke was ajhnpst >^ffocating,j and several Nrere^alimjost .blinded. , -' * , jAt O'Neal's things were no better, and by;' M/jr O'NeiH was so overcome by the smoke r tha£ ho had. to be carried inside^ /'At "Ibis farm r 't t b6 back was.burrit 'out of the irapshed and the haystack, was burnt on Monday night "' '" At Baxter's the fire was quite as bad, and th6> fighters had' a very rough tune, Afr Baxter being coinpTetely exhausted wh*n daylight appeared. AfcSolley'a the 'fire raged with unabated vigor, and' the helpers. had a bad time, but worse was to come on Monday night. " • ' , ■ " '"■' "On the lower farms it Hvas "not so bad on 'Mionday, but at' Solley'9 the fire took another 'track, and when night came •'» dufop of fimiiß jiist over a creek caught lire and sent sparks and great flaming piece* of bark down into the house and BbJed, and Mr Solley -was. forced to ''shoot for he>lp." Tii answer to the shots the sur- ■ rouuding settlers came up, and a desperate 'fight commenced. The' spares rained down tind several' times the' clblhing of some' 'of those present caught fire.. The' great fight put up, however, saved the buildings from destruction, and after the sap was burnt) off the trees things 'got a little quieter. An ensilage stack on this farm stood the fire like a thing of steel, sparks and flaming pieces of wood failing on to it without making any impression whatever. Mr Solley lost over one- hundred, matai and rimxi fencing. p osts, a large .number of slabs, and .some sawn timber for a now 'shed. Mr O'NealJ'lost 100 totara piles. ' • ' Monday night's, fight at Soßey's com--pletely blinded Mr Solley, temporarily, and ,did a .great* deal towards causing Mf Valentine's breakdown. When the . Tuesday morning came Mr Valentine helped .Mr, Gorgon to milk, and then went horn© and there he and Mr GrifEen had a haad time, saving t&o buildings." 1 The smoke below Valentine's (Dr Harrison's) place was bo dense that when Messrs' Baxter and RSolley. rode up to help they could not see one another though" riding- side by side. Mr H. "Bates coming' down •a littlfe later had a very sensational time, being compelled' to ride through a sheet of -flame which leaped right across tho toad and, indeed, singed bis horse's hair as he rode through, f the anitnal bedng nearly choked and unable to go at full gallop. The place her6*was, as Mr Baxter remarked, a "good preparation for the infernal^ regions." By dinner-time Mr ! Valentine was- completely overcome, ( the smoke having got on. his lungs. He was scalrcely 1 able to stand, and was at last earned to a gig and driven away. Dr' Harrison afterwards wired for him and, his family ix> be sent into. Eltham. ■ Valentine's place being' now deserted, it was practically at, the- mercy of the- fire, but about l.^ae p.m. Mtesate'R. Solley H. Bates, D. Aiderson, 'amd; M. Voullaiie rode -up, and Messrs Solley and Vouilaire remadned for some tima'. , ' At one time whale efforts were bang made to save the, ehed, the fence adjoining it caught fire righl> against the wall. About 3.30 the place was left to itself again for some tinte. When night came things, looked bad again but a Rowaai contingent of eight arrived, Messrs Renoer, C. and M. . Vouilaire, and J. Finnegan came up from Riverlea. Messrs Renner, C. VouJlaire, Fimnegan, and the- Rowan men returned ibo Messrs Dowden and Waiah-'e farm lower down t<he road, where the fire was now beginning to reach, wMlst R. Solley and M. Vouilaire proceeded! to Valentine's, where they, remained through the whole night waitfching the hay shed, which was opem on two sides towards the wind 1 and therefore a source of considerable danger. The house and) other buildings, being either boarded to the ground or banked up, were -not so troublesome. -At about ■ 9 o'clock Messrs C. Vouilaire and J. Coltemaai came up to see how things were at Valehtnne's and then /returned, Mt Voulkdre coming back at midnight and 1 lemaining. about an hour, when he went 'home in' case of fire leached the- Eltham road. With daybreak on Wednesday the fire was practically burnt out ■at Valentine's and Solley's and all danger was over. Mr Vouilaire .retanned ,home, and Mir Bulmeor, of Kaponga, who had been at Solley'B since Tuesday afternoon, , after helping to milk also departed. The fire, although) crossing the road into Rtzgerald's, Gargan's, Richaardsoo's, and McEwen's, did not become so dangerous round the ixaiMingis, which was just as well, ae;the inhabitants were all the time helping those aver the iroad, asdi it is certain that had %he fke be«n dangerous on> this sdde^Bome one or other must have been bruftit out. On Wednesday evening the fire travelled very rapidly in two directions, one line goHig down the back of McEwen's and (running through M»- R. • Tobin's, going within three chains' of Mrs- Wilton's homestead and just paett Tobin's. The other lane swept down between the Mangawhero and Mangawhero-iti through Mr T. Smith's and -causing a. dense smoke Tound the Riverlea . settlement. A third line came down on Wednesday afternoon through Mrs Malone's farm on the west side of the Mamgawhero road, and coming down to th» Eltham road burnt a large oat stack belonging to Mre Malone. About eight o'clock on Wednesday night a shower of rain damped. the grass, and a drizzel setting in prevented the fixe going over the Eltham road, -'and by ThuTfiday morning it had received a severe, check, and the weary settlere wese abe to rest in peace. Some of those on the Upr>er Mangawhero had scarcely slept since Saturday night, and weir© completely knocked up.

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THE BUSH FIRES. Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume LIII, Issue 9309, 16 March 1907

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