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HAMILTON, Pri: The most catas- trophic fire in the history of Hamil- ton swept into the outskirts of the town from the north and west today. Apart from outer district losses, 40 homes and all the property and per- sonal belongings in them were des- troyed. , '.
There were many narrow escapes
from death, and several persons , saved their lives only by leaping into dams as the flames swept toward' them.
Tonight voluntary squads were caring for the homeless and the smoke-blinded. Others were endea- vouring to trace missing members of families.
Swinging.from north to west and back again ft. fierce hot wind drove the flames before it with incredible speed. Iron sheets rioped from the roofs of buildings crashed into the main street.
Almost the entire business centre closed down, and thousands fought the flames throughout the day. Women spontaneously helped their menfolk. The fire station was the centre of streams of helpers with food and drink for the fighters. Many women donned overalls and went with the men to the fire front.
As the fire raced on hundreds of homeless people, with nothing more than what they stood in, wandered among isolated chimney shacks and embers in places where they had lived. Many scorched bodies of horses and cows were found on the roads. Hundreds of fowls were suffo- cated.
People rendered homeless in the town area include H. Bullock, Hugh Simpson, Mrs Wakfer, William Crowe, C. J. Annëtt, W. C. King, S. W. Prictor. Mrs Moore. P. Lovell, Mrs G. O. Ryan, Mrs Hearn, W. Sprigg, Cecil Jackson, Percy Storer, Mrs Phillips, R. J. Mcpherson, R. Pettingill, Mrs W. Plunkett, L. Swift, M. Webber, McGregor, Mrs M. Mas- terton, M. Fyfe, A. Glare, T. Hender- son, C. Coffey, Moore. Kurtze, Mrs E. Diwell, Harrison, Miss Todd, J. Todd, J. Mccaskill, Lovett, J. Pit- man, C. Simmonds, J. and A. Spring, and others not yet identified.
Total area devastated in Hamilton district alone probably exceeds 20,000 acres, including many crops and out- buildings.
The town was most seriously menaced at 3.30pm, when the fire swept from the west, and sur- rounded the house of G. E. Candler, less than half a mile from the post office. The flames were miraculously beaten back, with only the loss of outbuildings.
During the afternoon the Hamilton bark mills, in the Hamilton station yard, were destroyed by fire, and the coal sheds later became ignited. Turntable of the Hamilton railway station had its lines warped and twisted to such an extent that it was impossible to move engines in or out of the sheds. A coal loader was entirely destroyed. Its loss is estimated at £10,000.
In the Tarrington area, 6 miles from Hamilton, many homes and the post-office were destroyed.