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FIRES.

Shortly before noon on Saturday a serious fire occurred in Serpentine Avenue under rather peculiar circumstances. Some scrub not «r from several dwelling houses was set on fire probably out of mischief, and in consequence of the dry weather that has prevailed and the high wind blowing at the time it took firm hold of the bush and burned with great rapidity. Seven or eight bouses scattered about the hillside were soon seen to be in danger, and the residents in most cases occupied themselves in taking precautions to keep off the flames, removing their furniture, &c. All the houses escaped serious damage, however, with the ex* ception of a large two-storey house occupied by Mr J. Sharpe (storeman at Messrs E. C. Reynolds and Go's.), which was so speedily surrounded by flames from the burning bush and grass that his family and the neighbours had little time to save anything. This building was a mass of flames by the time that the Salvage Corp3 and Fire Brigade arrived at the spot, and it was entirely destroyed. It was the property o* Mr J. H. Bunce, and was insured in the Standard office for £100 ; while Mr Sharpe had his furniture insured in the South British office for £50. The owners and occupiers of all the surrounding houses suffered considerable damage from the total destruction of their fences, trees, &c. One man named Edward Watkins, who was repairing a fence in the neighbourhood, saw the danger that threatened from the spread of the bush fire, and made a determined attempt to extinguish it, but got rather badly burned about the face and neck in the attempt. There was, of course, very little water to be got at the spot, and it was obvious, therefore, that no efforts by the brigade could save the building when it once caught. The bush fire spread over an area of about 150 yards, burning all round some of the houses and leaving a large tract completely bare of all vegetation.

As a consequence of the very dry weather of late, bush fires have been raging in the Peninsula, North-East Valley, and Blueskin districts. On Sunday at about half-past 2 in the afternoon matters assumed rather aserious aspect in the case of the Valley. The bush on Mr Wickland's property at Hawthorne took fire, and threatened to do considerable damage. The fire quickly spread to Mr Wickland's orchard adjoining, and from thence to Mr Blair's ground, where there are five valuable stacks of oats. The North-East Valley Fire Brigade, with considerable promptitude, proceeded to the spot, and within a very short space of time had their engine placed in the creek, and with 200 yds of hose attached were able to reach the place where the fire was raging. After about four hours' hard work the brigade, with ;the assistance of Constable Walker and some of the neighbours, had the fire pretty well under control. Mr Wickland estimates the loss of his fruit at £50, and both he and Mr Blair were loud in their praises of the brigade, who were the means of caving upwards of a thousand pounds' worth of property. Four stacks of oats, the property of Mr John Woodhead, near Temuka, and a combine andg elevator owned by Mr Caleb Bateman, were totally destroyed by fire on Friday. The stacks were finished only the previous evening. It was only by sending to Temuka for the fire engine that it was possible to save the house and outbuildings. The machine was insured for £200 in the National office, but the grain was uninsured, and Mr Woodhead's loss will be heavy, as the oats were of a special kind, and the yield had been estimated at 100 bushels to the acre. — Timaru Herald.

A stable, barn, woolshed, and carthouse, belonging to Mr James Deegan, Oreti Plains, a self-binder, a back-delivery reaper, and several sets of harness were destroyed by fire on Tuesday. The origin of the fire is unknown. The insurances are— £9o on the buildings, £10 on the chaff-cutter, and £25 on the harness, horsecovers, &c, all in the New Zealand office. The binder and reaping machine were not insured. — Southland Times.

Auckland, March 11.

Many of the buildings destroyed at Cambridge were uninsured. The New Zealand had a risk of £400 on three of Cos's buildings, and the National £250 on a portion of the block. The Norwich Union had £200 on Board's printing office, and £500 on another property. The Victoria had £300 on Sergeant's. The total loss by the fire is £10,000, and it would have been much heavier but for the exertions of the crowd, who saved the stocks, with the exception of those of Bates and Ward. Additional insurances: South British, £500; Northern, £300; Equitable, £100 ; Standard, £150. A bush fire is raging in the Pukekohe district, and it is feared that much damage will result. The house of Robert Ludlow, a settler, two miles from the village, was destroyed by the flames on Saturday. Insurance, £50, in the Imperial office.

The material found in the drawer of Jones' saddlery shop, Queen street, where the fire took place last week, proves to bo patent fire kindlers. The fire was evidently the work of an incendiary, who was not a stranger to the place.

Nelson, March 11.

A fire broke out in an eight-roomed house in Collingwood street to-night. The building was occupied by Mrs Levien, a widow with 10 children^- and only a girl of 11 and a child of three were in the place at the time, the latter being in bed. A candle had been left in the room, and it is supposed the child upset the candle. The elder girl rescued the little one, but was severely burned about the arms in doing so. The house being old and wooden, the fire spread very rapidly, but within two minutes of the alarm the fire brigade had the water on and saved the attached buildings. A piano and furniture to the value of £80 in all were saved ; but the estimated value of the contents is £300, and there was no insurance. Twenty-five pounds in notes was saved. The house was insured in the Liverpool and London for £150.

Woodvillb, March 11.

On Saturday a strong gale was blowing, whioh caused the bush fires t© spread in the Maharahara district to such an extent that the homes of several settlers were in great danger. Fortunately rain fell in the afternoon and stopped the spread of the fires. Oamabtt, March 10.

The Totara Estate woolshed was destroyed by fire on Saturday morning early. Three men, supposed to be swaggers, were observed 'to leave the vicinity shortly berore the fire broke out, and it is supposed they were smoking and thus caused the fire. The building was a large one, and at the time of the fire contained 40 tons of chaff, besides other articles. The insurance is £800, ia a Dunediu office, the name of which is *t present unknown. Christchuech, March 8. A telegram from Akaroa this afternoon states that a serious bush fire was raging there. H. Aylmer's run has been swept. He lost many sheep. Mr Knox's farm was also swept, the house being saved, although scorched. The fire is rapidly spreading towards TosswilPs and Hayes' runs at Barry's Bay. Chatfield's and Raye's grass and bush are on fire, At Little

River Watkins' bush is burning. The northwest gale is spreading the fires in every direction. Unless we have rain it will be a serious look-out as the country is so dry. March 9. A telegram from Akaroa this afternoon states that at Barry's Bay almost all the winter feed has been burnt, as well as many fences. The fire is still raging, and has just run round towards Trench Farm, very serious loss has been sustained at the Kaik. H. Aylmer's feed has been destroyed as well as his sheep. Early this morning A. Knox's house was destroyed, and Gt. Knox's saved with difficulty, all the furniture being removed in case of accident. Yesterday and to-day parts of Summit road were impassable. A very large area of winter feed has been destroyed. The loss is estimated at hundreds of pounds, and there is no knowing where the present fires will spread to. Large fires broke out in Le Bon's Bay yesterday. March 10. Serious bush and grass fires are reported from the Oxford district. On Friday a grass fire started on Henderson and M'Beath's run and burnt for six miles, destroying stock, oats, and a quantity of feed belonging to Jeffs and two stacks of oats and fences belonging to Charles Thompson. A bush fire started near Cooper's creek on Thursday night and spread overj two miles of country, destroying a large quantity of fencing, firewood, posts and rails, &c. March 11. Heathstock, the residence of Mr J. D. Lance, M.H.R. for Cheviot, situate 14 mile 3 from Waikari, was totally destroyed by fire last night. The greater part of the furniture was saved, as well as stores, &c. in the outbuildings. The insurance is £1500 in the Union, £750 of which is reinsured in the Victoria office. !

Extensive grass fires have beenHburning on the Port hills during the past few days. On Sunday afternoon Holland and Tapley's slaughterhouse, near Lyttelton, had a narrow escape, and in the evening the Maori pah at Raupaki wa.3 only just saved by several hours' hard work by the Natives and settlers. A large quantity of grass and some bush was destroyed. Later at night a north-west breeze drove the flames towards Lyttelton. Gallagher's house, Cass' Bay, was saved with difficulty. This afternoon the fire appeared over the hill above Dampier's Bay, close to Lyttelton. The police and firemen, with a number of volunteers, turned out, and after several hours' hard work, checked the progress of the fire towards the town. A considerable number of sheep is supposed to have perished.

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FIRES. Otago Witness, Issue 1947, 14 March 1889

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