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TELEGRAPHIC Tremendous Bush Fires. MELBOURNE, Feb. 8. •Bush fires are raging throughout the State and have desolated many districts. Valuable properties have been swept away and numerous families rendered homeless. The Western district, which suffered so severely-last year, has.again been de-' vastated -by a firewhichstarted five miles from Hamsilto'n. -Fanned by a strong north wind it swept irresistibly along, and grass,-fencimng, trees, and stock went down before it. Many houses were threatened, but escaped serious damage, some being charred and others half -burnt. The estate of Mr. A. J. Simson, a well-known breeder of Shropshires, was-almost entirely destroyed. The wool sheds and sheep sheds were swept away, ":'and the homestead was only saved by a nmiracle. Byaduk, a fair-sized township, a few miles further on, now barely exists. In Lower Byaduk. three houses alone stand out of the original fifteen,.. and to-day seen -smoking from the charred ruins, the place is terrible to look upon. On one big station 2ooo sheep were roasted, and a mile or two further along on the MIurrori Estate nearly 30oo sheep were roasted and charred. Filly so,ooo sheep and much valuable stock and ma chinery, and many sheds, houses, and., outbuildings in this district have disa.p peared. Casterton and the dtljoining country is a mass of .smoke. The fire which - gaaused this started on Wednesday and burned all night Thursday; and then, tanned by a heavy north wind, swept toward Condah, covering scores of miles of country, and it is still burning. Old residents say that Black Thursday did not exceed in fierce intensity and de .vastation Thursday's fire. The .rnaiwy line .between Mialcite

and Branxholme is a wreck, and the lossj of stock, crc;s, and fencing is enor moius. 'Camperdown has suffered severely. Railway bridges and culverts have been burned and farms and stations devastated. At Dunolly the newly-erected Pres byterian church was blown down and the roofs. of houses and sheds scattered by terrific gales which careered madly over this State on Thursday night. The.Birregurra distriot has suffered most intensely, not only in property and stock, but valuable lives have been sacrificed. A spark from a passing train caused the fire, which has already accounted for five lives, with two o?thers still hanging in the balance. The dam age done to the district is at present in calculable. The Yeo Valehomestead, with the woolsheds and machinery, was com pletely demolished. It was at this spot that several plucky fire-fighters were so'severely burnt as to necessitate their removal to the Colac. Hospital. The Deep Deane property was also des troyed, and the township of Birregurra narrowly . escaped total destruction. Houses after houses were swallowed uj and the manager of the Colonial Bank had to place his wife and family in a tank to save their lives. Three sturdy little fellows were burned to death in the panic and con fusion... The two McCallum boys, aged io and Ii. and young McDonald, aged I2, got separaited from their people, and their charred remains were after wards found. The forest is still in flames, and the navvies on the rail way there only succeeded in 'saving their tents. Kingwell, one of the fire-fighters so badly burnt on Thursday, died in the Colac Hospiital this evening. Two o.:hers are in an extremely critical con dition. The injured men are Wm. Lanbell, Wm. ?mes, Juner,. Oliver, Clifton, and Wm. Wells, all of whom may still possibly sucrumb. A fierce fire swept the Yielima State forest, in the Nathalia district, . on Thursdai and practically -destroyed it. The danage was great, and will seri ously affect the red gum industry, by nason of the large number of young trees destroyed. Avenel, mn the North-East~ern dis trict, has been scourged for miles by the fiercest bush- fire ever known in the district. The extent of the fire was 25 miles by. 12. At one time yester day, the Sydney express and other trains' travelling in the North-Eastern. district had to pass between walls of fire.

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