BUSH FIRE AT TAPANUI.
(From oitr own Correspondent.) A terrific fire broke out in the bush here on Tuesday afternoon, the 24th Dec, which, continued to rage with greater or less fierceness almost uninterruptedly until yesterday. It broke out about two hundred yards behind the Victoria Saw Mills, and so sudden was the nature of the outbreak, that Mr. *Ho wat on walking along the tramway at half-past three o'clock, overtook one of the bullock drivers, when he said he 'thought he smelt fire somewhere, but no sign of any could be seen. However, half an hour later, on returning, so intense was the fire for a good distance on both sides of the tramway, that the bullock driver was compelled to seek another way of escape. The bush and everything 1 near it of an inflammable nature — beingrendered doubly more so by the long continued and severe drought, andahot wind blowing fiercely the whole afternoon — ignited rapidly. Towards midnight the scene was one of the wildest sublimity, and weirdest grandeur. The large and valuable mill by dint of unremitting watching and a plentiful supply of water, was wholly saved. Not so, however, .with the tramway, which was a splendid piece of substantial workmanship, and cost a considerable sum of money in its construction, of which 60 or 70 cha|ns have been left a desolate wreck. When morning arose, a dense column of Bmoke was seen issuing from a vast area where' the conflagration had extended, and it was hoped it had exhausted itself, but it kept smouldering and quietly burning, as if nursing its- wrath to keep it warm until Monday afternoon, when it ! burst forth with renewed and increased terrificness. The sound of the roariug flames- was like muffled thunder, and when it got dark the sight baffles description. Most of the ground over which the fire has passed is where workings have taken place for the last year or two, very little new or green bush being destroyed. Only the tramway already referred to, and a small truck has been lost by the Victoria Saw Mill :ovmava, although at." one time there Tras evident dan<4erof a much greater destruction of property. Ons of -the bushmen lost a beautiful garden, but he consoles himself with the fact that he can now dig his po- j -tatoes roasted and ready for use. A
' small hut which was three times threatened — and imminently threatened— with total annihilation, was saved when the fire was Waging fiercely ardund it and over it) during which time several feats ot daring heroism were displayed. Mr. John M 'Coil's large house and extensive garden and orchard* was at one time in considerable danger, as was also Mr. Swan's cosy dwelling and snug retreat of a garden, but happily the fire subsided before reaching either of them. A portion of Mr. Patterson's tramway waß consumed, but his mill was not cndaugered in any way. Although We have had several bush fires, this is the largest and most extensive as well as destructive we have yet experienced. Little smoke is now seen, but we will not be quite satisfied until a good long shower comes.
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