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FIFTY MILES OF COUNTRY ALIGHT.

(Dominion Correspondent.)

EKETAHUNA, Monday^

The. bush fires area extends intermitr. tently from Mount Holdsworth along ith,e Tararua ranges to Mount Bruce, thence m almost a direct line to Hatswell'Sj Kaiparofo, and Nh'eaha, then to- New- r man, and across to tlie Mangatainokiti. block. Between Konini and Hamua the fire line may be estimated! to extend approximately 50 miles along the lower ranges of the Taraxuas, including KoH; nini, Hamuo,, and five or six miles m the Mangamahoe valley.

Hastwell's a small: settlement a few miles from Eketahuna, appears to have had a hot time. It is lying m a veritable fire basin. Every peak 'and crag m that district' is smouldering, awaiting only the advent of wind to transform the whole into a ferocious 'furnace. . SETTLERS TAKEN UNAWARES.: Stock, has been lost m all directions, m many instances through the settlers nob realising their danger and not mustering. For instance the fire was - three days m travelling' from Kaiparoro to Mr F. A. Sheath's at Mangamahoe, but it was not anticipated that there would beany danger to 'that district. Friday evening's 1 gale changed: the^Avhcie' appearance of things, and Mr Sheath lost a hundred sheep. The report that Mr Sheath had great difficulty m saving his house from* the flames is incorrect. The fire did not come within a considerable distance of his residence. ;

Several settlers stated that the fires meant losses one way but gain m another. The bush had to be btiTned, and if it "was not all burned mne .season tho work had to ba> gone on with the next year, so that farmers could have v chance to ■work their lands. Indirectly the fire meant an increase of 10s an acre m viilue to their sections. In t-hp circumstances tho only thing for them, to do was t(V take whatever precautions ] they coivld \so that the loss would not be too greal through their own carelessness. •

•Point is .given, to this statement by the action of Mr Albrechtson, a Xirenhn, settler and sa-wmiHei', wlio m niovingi his place of residence to-day to .Newman. The Nireaha district is 'heavily wooded, and ai Considerable of biush has been felled and-' ii nrrtv very dry. It was not intended to bum it till next month, but fires are springing ■up m all directions, and as there would be no chance of saving the house, Air Albrechtson is taking time by the forelock.

There is no- doubt that -with the continuation of dxy weather— and it seems as if it were to continue for some time — residents m the bush districts may expect a. wry hot ' time.

Reports from Pongaroa, state that the district has bean ravaged by fire. Inspector Ellison, yvhn came m from that, district to-day, states that the. conflagration was started by a farmer who was cremating a dead boast. The fire raced away from him.k> fast that he could not cope -\vifch it, and miles of country were covered. Fanners m all parts, from Haunui' to Pongaroa, were mustering their stock all through the hours, of day and night, and it is understood that they have been very successful. . An idea of the heat m the .Waira.ra.pa bush districts may be gained from the fact that day after day the temperature has been 90 m the shade, and- as touch, ns 130 m tho open. The Wairarapa hae been drier than for many years. The drought seems likely to last, • and already lambs, only half fattened, are being rushed to the slaughtering works of the Wellington meat companies. The Mount Bruce district, the scene of a large bush fire which ■•destroyed Messrs Coradine and' . Whittaker's saiymill, was -visited by a Dominion reprqsentitive. The settlement lies light up m the lower ranges of the Tararuas, not far from the source of the Runmnhanga river, and about 17 miles from Masterton. From settlers' reports, confirmed by persona] inspection, it appeared that the fire was of considerable magnitude, tho total area under fire on Friday evening being estimated at, several thousands of acres. Settlers, mill huncs, and their families had a most trying time, "but all displayed indomitable pluck. The fire started on Thursday, and under a heavy gale swept down upon the sawmill, which was m 11 te * -centre of. a zone of fire, extending all around. Late m tho afternoon it way found that the road leading to Haspwell's was blocked, and as it was feared that .nothing could save the mill buildings and residences near by, and egress over the lmmntain •on the Masterton side was threatened, it was decided tt> remove the women and children along this line of route to the residence of Mr C. A, Wall, three miles farther on, alongside the steep banks of the Ruamahanga. Thews were four womon, wives of mill hands, and live children, the two youngest of which were tliree- months old. The journey was made with great difficulty, the fugitives being half-blind-ed with smoke, but all arrived safely at Mr Wall's residence at about 9 on Thursday evening. The goods and chattels of the mill hands had hi the meantime- be?n removed; and: buried, some m pits, and some m the basin of the Ruaniahunga. At the time wlien the women and children arrived at Mr Wall's the fire was als 0 threatening .his cottage, ;md the whole party made preparations to letiro to shelter under tho big river banks, if the worst came to the worst. Happily the- wind changed, and the fire beat- backwards.

In the meantime a 'vigorous gale hud carried tho fire right round the hill, leaving it untouched. A watch was kept at night by tit? 17 mill hands. They were just about to congratulate themselves next morning-, when down came tho fire again, funned by a. stronger wind tium before. The men fought the flames with desperation, although half blinded h v smoke tuul half scorched by heat, ilt was, however, all to no purpose. Late that afternoon all they could do- wag- to lie almost exliausted on burnt fields and •watch the triumph of the element.

Mr John Groustroui. who was up for two days and two nights, said that tho fire travelled with terrible, speed, owing to the dry nature of the- timber. Forty or fifty acres of busli would be covered m names m a few minutes. No aid. wa-s given by the pastures, which, were fairly green m the .Mount Brno? neighborhood. When the mill was gone, and the four or five whares which did duty as dwelling houses, tho men were given shelter by Mr Wall.

On Friday evening Mr Rail's house was surrounded* by fire. He fought the flames till ho was blind, when he retired to liis house to let the fire do its worst. It ciime to within a. few feet of the house, and then drifted away. Mr Rait, much to Ms surprise, found himself a. whole man with roof over him. He' fears that he hag lost a large amount of stock. Fires are now abating, bat their severity is shown m Hie great blackened areas and the appearance of the sheep, which have changed -cokir from 'a snowwhite to a dirty black and tun. Mr Coradine, who was uninsured, estimates his loss at •£2OOO. He informed me that hLs firm had got over most of its difficulties m connection with the sawmill. There was about another/ 12 or 18 months' cutting-, but it would not pay to erect the mill again. A considerable loss was the steam hauler, valued at £500. It was away m the bush, cut off through the burning of the bridges on the tram, line. Very little timber, was at the mill at the time of tlie fire. The waggonersj ha,ving decided to work during the Christmas' hoilkfoys. had. removed all the timber to Masterton r

Mr Coradine ascribes the fire to the thoughtlessness of some settler \vho wanted a. good burn. It is probable that the Matter will be further ventilated m the law courts." ' ! i ; ,

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/PBH19080116.2.4

Bibliographic details

FIFTY MILES OF COUNTRY ALIGHT., Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XXXV, Issue 11176, 16 January 1908

Word Count
1,346

FIFTY MILES OF COUNTRY ALIGHT. Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XXXV, Issue 11176, 16 January 1908

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