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(By "Scorcher.")

On Wednesday afternoon a number of townspeople took train to Seaward Bush to view the scene of the greatest bush fire recorded in the history of Southland. Antony th® passengers were several members of the Avenal Borough Council, who went on a tour of inspection to theii endowment at Waimatua. The first sign of the disaster was at Tistoury, where Mr Fairweather’s mill stood, and which now presents a blackened patch of smouldering-ruins, while the station has also succumbed, the scene giving one the impression that the residents must indeed have had a perilous time. Acres of land have been swept and vegetation checked. The fire must have pursued its erratic course with marvellous rapidity, for as far as the eye can reach the same picture presents itself, and the results must spell ruin to a number of^settlers. A little higher up Messrs Broad, Small and Co.’s well-appointed sawmill has been reduced to ashes, and the engine and ironwork stood out in the sunlight as a very sad /spectacle. Many were the speculations as to whether they intend to build again. But a thorough inspection of the bush is first necessary in order to ascertain how the timber has fared-. It is understood such an inspection is now being made. Coming on to Waimatua. one is under the impression that the fire had a good deal of spare time when it reached this quarter, and made the best of it. Timpany Bros.’ mill is a thing of the past, and no timber at hand to rebuild it. The station has been swept away, and houses have been obliterated. Several of the sawmill men who were about related their experiences, and could point to where their huts- stood, tell how a paper of onions were roasted to a turn, and gave graphic details of how the fire swept down on them, and how they fought the flames as only Bushmen could, in order to save the mill. The settlers hope that the energetic proprietors- will bo able to re-establish the mill, as gloom has settled on the district since the riprip of the saw has ceased and the throbbing of the engine has become a thing of the past. It is here that the several borough endowments are situate, and the Avenal party were conducted over their ground by the present lessees (Messrs Evans and Lindsay). The fire has made a clean sweep of the endowment, and vegetation, is a thing of the past. The ever-premi-nent. Canadian thistle has hung his head, and his yellow brother, the ‘'ragwort" dejected, don’t-care-if-I-do look about him. while the tall tree-iferns, although downcast, are putting forth fresh fronds. Sawmilling timber there is of very little use, but this is not so much duo to the ravages of the fire as to the energy of the sawmillors,- This will be better understood when the reader learns that Avenal has benefited to the extend of £BOO for the right to cut sawmill timber on their area of 300- acres. The party struck through the bush, and were surprised at the richness of the soil, now in many places covered ■with a fine coat of ashes, and it would be almost criminal to miss this chance of turning these acres into fertile plains, and to convert (as far as possible) a calamity into a blessing. On the back of the endowment splendid terraces are met with, which should produce luxuriant crops. Fences have gone, and Mr Evans lost a lot of firewood and posts, but being of a hopeful turn of mih-d, he says there arc plenty more fencing-posts in the bush, and believes thatif the property is sown down it will mere than compensate him for his loss. Mr Lindsay has almost Lost a fin» crop of potatoes, and has bad to sacrifice a number of sheep owing to the shortness of feed, while the feneo boeween his part of the endowment and tho Gladstone one has been partially destroyed.

The fire appears to have gone right across the Gladstone endowment, and the Ceuneil should bo up and doing, as it is said;their property has benefited considerably, and the crop of noxious weeds has been materially reduced.

South and East Invercargill properties have had a run of fire through them, but th? Invercargill Borough’s block of 1000 acres does not appear to have suffered very much. Of course one would need to traverse the land to ascertain the extent of the damage 'done.

Although Mi- Rabbit hops about | sub silentio h© evidently hasn’t forgot the fiery ordeal through which he I ! passed, and at the sighs of mere! man he beats a hasty retreat. The visitors were the guests of Mrs Evans, and enjoyed afternoon tea as only hungry townsmen can. It is':said that the outcome of the visit will be a recommendation to the j A venal Council to sow about 200 acres down in cocksfoot and white I clover, at a cost of about 10s per acre. The work will probably be undertaken by the lessees and the Corporation surfaceman at an early date, for already in some places the weeds have made a fresh start. Tdo visitors returned to town tired but thoroughly satisfied that Avenal has an asset in the endowment that should by-and-bye bring in sufficient revenue to more than meet the liability incurred in improving this goahead little borough to the northward of Invercargill. The present tenants have about two-and-a-half years of their lease to run. A special meeting of the Council will be held on Monday to consider the question.

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Bibliographic details

The Late Fire IN SEAWARD BUSH., Southern Cross, Volume 14, Issue 49, 2 February 1907

Word Count

The Late Fire IN SEAWARD BUSH. Southern Cross, Volume 14, Issue 49, 2 February 1907

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