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SETTLERS' TERRIBLE HARDSHIPS., Otago Witness, Issue 2815, 26 February 1908
SETTLERS' TERRIBLE HARDSHIPS.
(From Our Own Correspondent ) AUCKLAND, February 18. 3Trom the districts m the back blocks of Auckland news fiJteis through, but \eiy slowly, owing to the absence of proper pfo&ans of commui.ication. But the meagre reports show that from Hokianga to Gisborne settlers on bush aieae are in trouble, End that the country is suffering great loss in. many places. Men, women, and children are fighting to save their homes or their stock fiom the flames, and in most vases are telling but little of their struggles to the outside world. Reports of enormous ftreas swept by flame are coming through, fend while the ■♦oss in timber may be (roughly estimated at so many thousand feet in different districts, the real total will never be known. The fires have got into the great Mamaku forest, near Rotoraa. The strong easterly gale on Wednesday and Thursday caused a. fresh outbreak, which has practically swept the country bare between Manuka u ftnd Arahiwi. On the Arahiwi Toad the fire has made a clean sweep of the clearings on Messis Quail's, Wh, f kin's. Wbke's, King's, and M'Sheen's pioperties. and the Arahiwi rawiriill tramways are still burning in all clnections. About ei§ht miles of tho railway fencing has been destroyed, and the Rotorua. express en Thursday last had a fortunate «scape from what might have been a serious disaster. About 3 o'clock that afternoon a huge rata tree fell right across the rails, just in front of Mr King's place at Arahiwi, and the smoke uas so den c e that it was impossible to see more than a few yards ahead. Tito gangs of platelayers, with the aid cf t'mber jacks, quickly removed the tree, and the rails were straightened, so that the train was only delayed a short time. Since Sunday morning an impenetrable haze of smoke has hung over the Rotorua district. Amongst the sawmillers at Mamaku, the Acahiwi Company has suffered to the greatest extent, having lost one mile and a-half of tramway, in addition to a considerable amount of timber. The mill and cottages were 6ave<3 Only after a long and hard-fought battle with the flames. The Mountain Rimu Company ai«o lost heavily, only one tram line being left Tvorkable out of three. Row's mill and the Maraeroa mills have also had a considerable amount of tramway burnt. An outbreak has occurred in the Helensville district, Kaipara.. and ■yesterday a 6ixToomed house and all outbuildings on a property occupied by Mr Reylands were •destroyed. The same fire caused the destruction of Mr Knopple's house. The Waitere Valley, near Waihi. h all on fire, and about 1000 eribbmgs for the mine have been destroyed, while the bush 5s burning fiercely. Ne*s Karikati, on the Bay of Plenty, is another outbreak, and a large and valuable sawmill bu6h has been destroyed. The huei^ is composed of rimu and kauri, and for miles there is nothing but sheets of flame. Large numbers of pigs have been roasted .alive, and a number of bridges have been destroyed. A big sawmill there is in grave danger. Great areas of the Piako Swamp arc on fire, and many tons of flax have been destroyed. The Waitawheta forest is ablaze, and the Maoriland Company's battery caught, but the fire was extinguished. At present the battery is surrounded by burning bush. The State kauri forest at Waitewetu is •burning, and reports state that it is impossible to get, nearer it than two miles, owing to the heat and dense smoke. Round Paerca there, are numerous bu=h fires, and in Raglan ' Country bush and grass fires have been burning for over a week. Thousands cf acres of grass and hundreds of miles cf fencing have gone over on the Kawhia side. Upwards of £30,000 worth of damage has t>een_done in the Oparau and Terau Amoa districts alone, while in North Auckland aniles and miles of valuable forest have been destroyed. February 19. From all over the country accounts are Received regarding the damage done by bush fires, and the city is still in a haze of smoke. Late last night the me, + ron of the Cair.bridge Sanatorium telegraphed for men to try and keep down a fire in the Maungakaiwa bush. A number of the Fire Brigade and other men worked all night, and succeeded in preventing the fire from spreading, but a number of the dead rata. tree^ are still blazing, and if the wind changes it js probable that the patients in the Pitinket colony will hate to be removed, as the fire is getting near it. The sanatorium men hate been working day and night, and are completely done up. The fire is said to be the result of a settler, some distance away, l ighting scrub more •tlhan a week 6inee. I*uc matron has had en anxious time, and has been up superintending almost continuously. In the Northern Wakca district several big di-ied swamps are on fire, and miles and miles of bugh country are burning. Enormous areas of bush are blazing in the Hokiang-a, Whangaroa, and Mangonui districts. A large quan-tiiy of valuable puriri and otheS: timber and miles of fencing- have been burned on Messrs Stokes's, Bradley's, and ohher properties. Other settlers^ in the neighbourhood are having an anxious time, and watching every change in the direction of the wind. The Waitere Valley busn in the Waihi tb'Btriot. containing millions of feet of valuable timber, has T>een blazing since the end of last week, and the Mataura Valley bush is also onfire. A wire from 3?ukekohe sta.te<; that Ma 1-s-clen's bush at Mauku, the Zingari bu*h at Puni, and several swamps in the same vicinity are on fire. February 20. News still comes to hand regarding the damage done by bush fires in various paits of the country. A gentleman who has just returned from a. fire-swept district out Waikato way said, in conversation with a Star representative this morning: — ''Until you see the effects you hare no idea how disastrous these fires really are to the farmers. When you see paddocks absolutely swept clear of grass, and the cattle without feed or water you begin to see what a bush fire really means." Advice has been received that a large area of bush has been burned in the forest reserve at Awakino. This is a very fine bush, lying to the north-east of Dargalilla.
The fire is also extending in the Waitete bush, in the Waihi district, and Mr HHarley. contractor, has lost about 1000 fencing posts, \Hfieh had been cut ready for removal. A large flaxmall area in the Thames Valley, owned by IMeesis Dean Bros , of Pacroa. has boon sw ept by swamp fires, and the loss by the owners will amount to clcse on £1000. Tho area in qucsnon hed been reserved for four years, and at was intended to start cutting opeiat'o.iS , upon it within the next few w eek- ' The Waiuku djstiict is barren of every vestage of gieeii except the swamps. The surrounding hills are a mass ot btuiiiiig embers, and at night present a weird (us-hl. La-t night Maishall's bush of se^ral hundred a^res caught file, and a largo quantity of valuable t'mber was totally i destroyed. To night the smoke in ti:o ' township is =o deii-c that object'- o few feot away can scaiToK be distinguished. There i is little feed for cattle and sheep, and the milk supply is very small — so much so that ' farmers are killing off their pigs, hating no skim milk for them. At one farm a spiing which had been running vigorously ioi 30 tears dried up two months ago, but this afternoon it ie- t vived again, and is now flowing as \ igorously j as e^er. r lhe ucighboui.ng farmers hate to cart wafer six and seten miles for domestic u*e. Tho flics in the Kawhia district have now practically burned out. Mr Klliort, of ' Oprfru. had nearly 800 sh^cp destiotod and I ]500 acies of grass swept. February 21. The Star's Cambridge corr-sooiident pays : i The country is becoming more and more jiaiched, and unless ram cornea speedily there is no tel^ng what the result w ill bo. One man at Taotaoroa, when burning his bush, cremated a number of his sheop j and bullocks, and but for the assistance given by a neighbour he would also have jo s t his horse?, the fire spread so rapidly. The change in the wind has had the effect of checking the ravages of the fire in the Waihi district. I Mr G. M'Gla-shan, manager of the Tamaki i Timber Mills Company, has returned to Waihi after having spent several days with his employees in fighting the bush flies | back from" the mill property. Although , tho fiz-es still surround the mill he considers the property tolerably safe, and says it is , fortunate that the losses were not greater 1 A mile of tramline and two bridges were destroyed, and he estimates the loss at j between £?00 and £400. The fire swept , right through the old bush, but fortunately i just as the flames were approaching the taluable bush the change of wind came and I 1 3tarded the progress so much that, it is j quite uossible the fire will be stamped out within* the next day or two. In the Kawhia district the settlers seem j to have suffered most severely from fires, which have- now pretty well burned themselves out, for the simple reason that there is little left to destroy. Messrs Oatee Bros., of Awaroa, practically lost everything, as they only escaped with what they stood up in. Messrs M'Cardle Bros, suffered loss of sheep, besides' a lot of fencing being b^urned. ! At Kauri, Messrs Noonan Bros, had a number of sheep destroyed, 30 being found dead in one corner of the paddock where they had gathered together to try to escape j the fire fiend. j Mr Elliott, of Oparau, has suffered much | more severely than was at first anticipated. He lost 1500 acres of grass, which it js estimated will cost £1000 to replace. In one paddock out of £00 sheep only 12 badly burned animals survived, and in another/case only three lambs were saved out of 180. Li the Coromandel district the bush fires have been, raging for several weeks. At times they die down and seem to ba over, then a strong t^ind sets in and fans the smouldering embers until a new conflagration starts off. Settlers have suffered in many instances owing 10-« he flames running over their grass paddocks. Messrs Shrimpton Bro^.. had all their feed destroyed, as well as 20 head of cattle. Mr John Lynch is reported to have lost most of his best grass. On Wednesday night a heavy easterly wind drove the fire through the Pukemauku block, and it was onlj owing to the assistance of a number of friends that the flames ware prevented from destroying the residence of Mr Garland. In the vicinity of Waingaroa a lot of damage has been done by the fires destroythe farmers' grass. The flames swept through the standing bush, and but for the assistance of neighbours Mr Hetvitt would have lost his homestead. Mr John ALlen had over 1000 acres of grass burnt. It is feared that many of the settlers will be compelled to part with the whole of their stock for want of feed News hos been received from Mamaku that a strong east wind has started the fires again in the bush there. The loss occasioned by the bush fires in j Auckland province was referred to at a meeting of the executive of the Farmers' j Union to-day. Mr Duxfield, of Ngaruatvahia, moted — "That the executive extends its heartfelt sympathy to all the settlers especially those in the Rinohaku district (Kawhia), who have suffered by the recent devastating fires, and warmly ap- ] proves of Ihe Prime Minister's expressed intention of rendering assistance." Mr Jowitt seconded the motion. Mr Flanagan, of Drury, said it was significant that now the farmers from end to end of the country were suffering loss there was no talk amongst the town unions and societies of their sharing with the fanners. The agitators who talked fo loudly in time of prosperity were silent now. The motion was cairied. February 22. A Star reporter, writing fiom Taumarunui, f=ays that at the end of the I'ipipi road stands Mr Datis's place. He and his daughter had a terrible time. They were sitting down to dinner when a warning of fire came. They had hardly time to get out of tho house before the standing bush, a few chains from the house was a wall of flame. They and a reighbour, Mrs Coutts, who was burned right out, just managed to race along the road for about a- quarter of a mile and find refuge in a big culvert, when the flames followed them and literally enveloped the whole neighbourhood. The smoke came through the culvert, which is big enough for a man to walk in, as through a chimney. It was only by bathing their faces continually in water running under their feet that they were able to bear the awful j pain. T' ie 7 were in this terrible plight nearly eight hours, and were only rescued after dark. Oddly enough, Davia's house
was noi burnt, all hough the adjacent wool=■l cd, hat stack, fencing, and other buildings were reduced to ashes. A few hunched yards pa«t tho junction, on the Ohura road, h\o? Mr Connolly, whose woolshed was burned, and who lo=t much stock. He and his household took refuge in a goodMzed t-tnam, with high banks, v Inch luns through the section. Eton hcie they were not safe. Frequently ihcir iloihing caught iiio fiom simrks. It \>as only b\ dashing «aler on one another that ti.ey escaped with their lives. Hia daughter Cora, about seven oi eight years of aye, suffered fnghtfuilv. They v. ere in the creek for about s\ hours, till the fue abated. The child and .r.orher were smo'to-blind and quite 1 n lple6s for a couple of days aftei .
SETTLERS' TERRIBLE HARDSHIPS., Otago Witness, Issue 2815, 26 February 1908
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