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MELBOURNE, Thursday.

Th« bush tiret whioh have beeu raging to various parts of the oountry have proved very destructive. Great destruction was done to-day in th« Branx- holm« district m the direction of Cape Otway. Churlos M'Intosli, an old resident, wat burnt to death, and several others were injured The whole district was devastated, the fir« travailing at a terrific rata in front of th« wind, whieh blew with hurricane force, Stock suffered severely, brandes giass, fencing, outbouses, stacks, sheds, corn, and sundries The following persons' houses and effect* were completely destroyed -Messrs Miller, Quirk, Storer, «.ddinsall, M'Lachlan, J. M'Millan, and Crisp .

At Condah the Roman Catholic chapel and several houses were burnt. Th« road and tho railway bridges mid the railway sleepers wein also destroyed. The fire is still raging on all tides, and trams from Portland are unable to proceed further owing I« the culverts being burnt. The Casterton trsiu is now

ti va houis late

Other tslegramt to hand to-night show Ihst disastrous bush fires are tsgmg in the Scarsdale dis- trict. Several house» hnve been destroyed.

1 he residents of Warrnambool had an anxious time, as the Hamo i reached the outskirts of the town, and swept away five houses

Severe losses were entailed on settlers in the Alexandra district,, when the flames swept over an area lfi miles by five, levelling everything.

A telegram for Wangaratta states that th« Sydney express train had to run to-night through a large area of burning country between Avenal and Long- wood. Th« fire extended to tbe fence on either side of tbe railway line, and as Iho train rushed through the heavy smoke the psstengeit were treated to an exceptionally close view of the grand and terrible scene where the fire had swept along only a few hours before. Burning trunks ttsod for miles, and furthsr ahead the llames, as they travelled onward, came unpleasantly clore to the trsiu.

Buninyong reports being visited by an extensive bush fire, which swept away the grass, cattle, and burses, nnd it is feared human life was alto lost

Several families are ruined and homeless. A gale sprang up this evening st Longwood, carrying a solid wall of Uro towards the town. The residents hastily gathered their valuables and placed them in buggies ready to drive away. Fortunately a change of wind Ht the opp> rtupe moment enabled the hre fighteis to get control, and the flames went on each side of the township The fire was within 100 yards of the railway statiou, and the Euroa Uremeu had hydrant end bose in position to try und eave the building, but their services fortunately were not required. The Ure bas split into two portions, or n going towards Pranmp and the other to Killeen Many miles of grass landa have been de- vastated, and many narrow escapea from death have been experienced. In some cases horsemen have had to gallou'across countn for their lives

News has been received at Ballarat that serious bush flroi ero raging m the Berringa district. Fears are onteitatned with regard to the safoty of the plants of the Birthday and Jubilee mining companies

Bush tites are alsu report'd from Broadford, Cole raine, Euro, Flinders, Frankston, Hamilton, Yea, Castlemaine, Hastings, Seymour, Tarnagulla, and other places.

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