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THE BUSH- FIRES

EXTENSIVE DAMAGE IN CANTER- ! BURY. A SAWMILL AND FIVE HOUSES BURNED. GREAT ANXIETY. CHRISTCHURCH, January 22. 'A destructive fire has- been raping in and- about Kowai Bnsh, near Springfield, with: intermittent intensity, for a- week, past, and. up to this evening, the flames were, still active. Up till noon yesterday about 1000' acres, belonging to Mr Fred Bennarn, had been swept by the fire; and a large number of sheep perished in thenamea. Mr- Johnston, groprietor of the Mount Torlesse Estate, has also lost a. large, number of sheep, with a quantity of fencing and native bush, and- it is feared that a considerable area- of his itussock country on the face of the hillsbetweeir Orarsana and the peak of Mount Torlesse may possibly be- swept by the flames. The fire reached the good bush at Faterson's Creek and raged with fury. Grass 1 fires were- also burning to-day in the* Westerfield district near A«hburton. in the Hinds- district, and- along, the hills between. Lyttelton and Governor's Bay. January 25From Tuesday morning a bush fire has 1 been raging in the Patterson's Creekbush, a few miles beyond Springfield. The bush belongs- to the- Government, and is a favourite holiday, resort. The fire was kept in check by- a gang of 30 men .until about noon torday, when it overcame their efforts and% destroyed ther Publio Works Department's sawmill in the bush. Three of the cottages belonging 1 to" the sawmill hands were also destroyed, with their contents; also an unoccupied furnished house belonging to Mr Jasker? and a- small cottage owned and occupied by James Petrie, but his furniture was saved. As far as could be seen from the railway line, Patterson's Creek busfa was swept by the flames, which means the destruction, of the majority of the living trees.- Yesterday afternoon the fire crossed the Waimakariri River and burned a quantity of bush on Woodstock Estate, and from fhere it spread to the Oxford forest, where it is now raging. It seems to be certain now that the whole of Patterson's Creek bush will be> destroyed. Late' yesterday afternoon the fire reached the. Kbwai bush and destroyed 40 acres of green bush, together with a large area of grass and dead bush. The fire crossed the Kowai River, and ignited the bush which adjoins the Mount Torless- homestead, but was soon checked. The fact that the fire had; in the face of a strong nor'-wester, blowing- at the time, jumped across the Waimakariri River Bed — a distance of several chains — caused greatanxiety for the safety of a wide area of. country, for it is realised that scarcely any/ natural barrier can now be relied upon, to stop thet fire. January 7A. The Kowai bush fire, which extended yesterday to the Wbodstock* Hun, was stopped before «ny^ serious damage was. done. It -was- kept from reaching, Mr. ]>ixon'&. woolafaed and wool. The fire spread, to febfe View. Hill bust, at die back of the ram paddock;, but at 2 o'clock, this morning the " wind' changed, and 1 for the present the danger is minimised. If' *• north-west wind gets up it is. feared there will be a- (dean sweep made through the dead bush, on the track of the Oxford fire in January, 1898. Fearing- a repetition of the disaster oF 1898; all the settlers along, the base ofMount Oxford, were busy yesterday, and. last night in mustering- their aheep preparatory. for flight should' the fire continue to advance. One farmer also packed hi*, household goods in view of eventualities. So lone* as- the- prevailing east wind contimie?. notlrintp, serious, is anticipated: It is-, stated, however, that th«~ fires* both: at Woodstockand V.iew Hill axe freshening. At the latter place considerable loss has been sustained by Messrs Bunn and Barnes respectively, owing to the destruction of the tramway and bridges* connected with their bawmills at Woodstock Tho homestead and woolshed were only saved after a continuous fight extending, for 27 hours. TMe View mil fire was caused by a new chum lighting; a fb» near Bunn's mill to boiL hi*, billy* The- Woodstock fire crossed over, from the. Kowai side of the Waimakariri. The fira- in. the Patterson's Creek, bnsh, near.- Spxingflfeld, is now ranging, higher on. the hills about Staircase Gully, and 4 m lacas- area? of bush has been destroyed. Same of the adjoining- hu&h on Mount Torlease Estate is also burning. No information with reapeet to tho extent of the destruction of. the Government forest reserve Has- yet been, received by^ the= Bands Department, but- acting, under instructions from the CJoramisskwierf of Crown Lands, the ranger proceeded to thet scene of the fire last night. .No report has so far been received from him. The area of the forest reserve is 3542. acres, and the officers- estimate* that about half of* that areai .cay 1900' acres-, is covered with bush. Adjoining the forest reserve the freehold land haa. in. places a good deal of bush upon it. The bush i& mostly birch. For , some years past those engaged in connection with the construction of the railway have been taking out the beet timber near thecrailwayt line. This would render the remaining, bush* more • liable to destruction by fire on account of the dead, branches that are- left. The area of ■ the;- Kbwai recreation ressrve adjoining the railway is 57 acres. The department' can give no estimate of the value of the bush destroyed. January 25. With a changer of wind the fire in the Oxford Bush was, cheeked, in its course leading to the town of' Oxf6rd; but it was driven back again across the country _ it had previously: traversed, in the- direction of the Waimakariri. River. Miles- of' valuable h»«h have been destroyed, and the fire is still burning fiercely. It is»stat«d by settlers in the locality that only a week's steady rain will extinguish it. A number of sheep havi* been destroyed, but so far no human habitations have been burned. January 26. A little rain fell in. the Kowai Btuh and Patterson's Creek district last night, and assisted in qnenching the fires, which to all appearances are now extinguished pvervwhere to the south of Patterson's Creek. Smoke still rises thinly from the bush at the junction of Patterson's Creek with the Wamarkarin. but not in the immediate vicumy- o& tia* "awmiiL iU*aw oor the

►remoter parts of the forest reserve the fire | appears to be still burning, but with much -less fury. There is very little wind to-day. It appears that when a bush fire starts there is no provision made in law to enable local bodies to incur any expenditure in employing men to extinguish the blaze in the early stage, when, if anything effective can be done, immediate action should be taken. The chairman of the Oxford Road Board has suggested to the Commissioner of Crown Lands (Mr Gold Smith) that representation. shouTd be made to - the Government to insert a provision in the Local Government Bill to be introduced next session empowering local bodies to incur a. certain amount of expenditure at once when a bush fire is reported in a district. It is thought that the suggestion is- a good one, and the matter will be brought under the notice of the Government. ASHBURTON, January 26. During the week grass fires, which have done damage to laige tracts of pastures, growing crops, and fences, have been reported from various parts of Ashburton Cdunty, but the most serious one occurred on Wednesday at Lauriston, on the RakaiaMethven line. The fire was fanned by a stormy north-west wind, and although hundreds of men were engaged in fighting it, it destroyed 1000 acres of pasture, miles of fences, farm implements, nine stacks of oate, and a number of rams and many farm outbuildings containing pigs and fowls. One man, in o*der to save himself from tbe frames, rushed into the middle of a pond of water. The heaviest sufferer by the fire is Mr Walter Goodwin, who only recently purchased his farm. , , , , j

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THE BUSH-FIRES Otago Witness, Issue 2759, 30 January 1907

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