MELBOURNE, February 3.
The weather continues dreadfully oppressive, and there are no present pros- pects of a change. The heat during the day was intense and muggy, with north to north easterly winds, but each night since Friday the air has been stifling in its oppressive warmth and stillness. The
Government Astronomer states that were it not for the heavy clouds of smoke from the bush fires overhanging the city the heat would be far mere oppressive.
Smoke from the fires continues to para-
lyse shipping on the coast between Cape Otway and Wilson's Promontory, the en- tire stretch of coast-line being wrapped in dense obscurity. This has been the case
for the past four days, rendering the generous use of fog signals from the light- houses necessary to warn ships of danger. From the Cape Otway station alone 900 rockets have been fired during the last four days, or equal to 18 months' consump- tion under ordinary circumstances.
Telegrams from Gippsland and other parts of the country where bush fires are raging state that there is no improvement
in the state of affairs. Hundreds of settlers have been burned out, and some of them have barely escaped with their lives. Very many heartrending cases of suffering are reported. The destruction of property, including live stock, has been on a vast
MELBOURNE, February 4.
There is still no change in the swelter- ing heat which has prevailed night and day since last Friday. Northerly winds set in with daybreak, and by 11 o'clock the thermometer at the Observatory registered 100deg. in the shade, and by 3 o'clock the reading had gone up to 107.5, which was the highest reading for the day, while during the greater part of the afternoon the thermometer registered 158deg. in the sun. Several cases of heat apoplexy have been reported, and in a couple of instances
horses fell dead in the streets.
Telegrams from Gippsland and other fire afflicted districts report dreadful suffering by settlers. Heat was registered up to 114 degrees in the shade, and the suffering was intensified by stifling smoke and scarcity of water. One redeeming point
in the bush fires is that there has not been any loss of human life, but the des- truction of cattle, sheep, fencing, hay stacks and household property is very heavy. In South Gippsland in particular the limit of human endurance has been about reached.
MELBOURNE, February 5.
A bush fire, which swept away nearly nine thousand acres of grass, started near Woolsthorpe, in the Koroit district, on Friday. A north-easterly wind drove the flames on at a great rate, and fencing and live stock were destroyed. The Messrs. O'Keefe Bros. lost 50 sheep, W. Lindsay lost 150, and others had smaller losses. The Messrs. O'Keefe are heavy losers. They carry on an extensive dairying business, and have lost all their grass feed.
Numerous cases of heroic conduct have come under notice in connection with the disastrous bush fires. One, the most daring, was performed at Warragul by Mr. E. J. Fowler, who almost gave his own life away in riding through a burning bush to
save a crippled farmer, named Loader and his little girl.
The Chief Justice, Sir John Madden, has
written to Mr. Fowler, expressing his highest admiration of his gallant and splendid courage.
All the country to the south of Warragul
is again enveloped in thick smoke, caused by the bush fires being fanned by a strong south-westerly wind which set in yester- day and blew throughout to-day. During the owner's absence in Warragul on Friday night the homestead of Mr. Michael Dwyer was nearly destroyed. The fire swept through the forest, and attacked the house which, but for the splendid work of the inmates and neighbours, would have been destroyed. The state school was at one time in imminent danger, and the Me- chanics' Institute was also threatened.
MELBOURNE, February 6. Mr. Brunker, Acting-Premier of New South Wales, telegraphed to the Victorian Premier (Sir George Turner) yesterday as follows:—" Deeply regret sad calamity and lamentable distress which have overtaken your people, in consequence of bush fires in Gippsland district. Please accept my warmest sympathy." Sir George Turner suitably replied.
The Minister of Lands states that during the past week the Government attended to a large number of individual cases of the sufferers through the bush fires, and re- lieved their immediate hardship. He suggests, however, that where extensive damage has been done and the distress urgent, local committees consisting of
three persons should be formed, so that
particulars as to the losses sustained could
be collected and placed before him, when the pressing wants of the sufferers would receive his immediate attention.
Telegrams from the country show that the change of wind saved several town- ships, which were threatened with de- struction by bush fires. In some portions of Gippsland the fires are still burning fiercely, but the wind being no longer from the north the exhausted settlers have a
chance of recovering energy. The coal mining town of Korumburra is still threatened, but a careful watch is being kept, and the residents have the assist- ance of a contingent of the metropolitan fire brigade. The officer in charge of the contingent paid a visit this afternoon to Silkstone, where the Jumbunna and other coal mines were menaced by the fires which are burning in heavily timbered gullies almost up to the pit mouths, and there- fore perilously close to the mine buildings and surface plant. If the danger becomes more acute during the night the fire engine will be removed from Korumburra and set to work to secure the mine buildings.
The long stretch of intense heat was broken yesterday morning, when a cool southerly breeze set in and continued throughout to-day. This long-desired change gave intense relief, but heavy rain is wanted to complete that feeling. The Government astronomer, however, states that there are no signs of any rain.
MELBOURNE, February 7.
The southerly breeze which set in on Saturday continued to-day, and the weather was pleasantly cool, but reports from inland parts of the colony show that the weather is still hot there. At Horsham to-day the thermometer registered 104 in the shade.
Bush fires have been raging in the Grampians now for over a fortnight, and appear to increase in intensity. All the richly grassed country south of the Gram- pians, known as Moora Moora, has been burnt. The fire has made its way over the mountains, and by the latest reports appears to have reached Mr. G. Carter's station, Rosebrook. A few settlers have suffered very severely. The Rosebrook homestead was attacked yesterday, but after a fierce fight the flames were driven back. The fire has now reached Won- wondah station, owned by Mr. Mosman.
A fire, the largest which has occurred in the Horsham district for many years, has swept over an immense tract of country, destroying thousands of acres of grass and miles of fencing.
Benalla reports that alarming news re- garding bush-fires in the neighbourhood of Toombullup, Lima, Toorna, and Boho reached Benalla this afternoon. Several fires in the ranges had been burning for some wesks past, and had become confined chiefly to the hilly barren country, but with the arrival of the south winds
they have been carried to the Toombullup country. It is estimated that the several fires extend over an area of 60 miles. Particulars to hand so far are meagre, but
the well-known selections of Messrs. Gould ing, Webb, Stubbs, J. Drummond and Wright in the Toombullup and Samaria districts have been entirely swept by the flames, and it is feared that several home- steads have also been demolished. In the Warrenbayne district Mrs. Hoskins, and Messrs. Iredale and Williams are the principal sufferers.
Should strong southerly or westerly winds continue for a few days, the fires will be carried on to the rich flat country, and results must prove disastrous, as everything there is as dry as tinder.
News has been received from Rothsay, 15 miles from Benalla, that a destructive fire swept over the district yesterday. Mr. Jas. Steele has lost a large quantity of grass, and another settler named McSweeney has lost his homestead, milk sheds and outbuildings, and a large area of grass, Messrs. McDonald, Tremancy, and Holden have lost heavily in grass and fencing.
Traralgon reports that bush fires have caused great damage. The Mechanics' Institute at Blackwarry has been crushed by a couple of blazing trees which fell upon it. Several settlers have lost every- thing except their lives. A conflagra- tion which caused havoc south of Tra- ralgon last week, and which burned towards Hazelwood and Morwell, doubled back yesterday under the in- fluence of the westerly breeze, but not much damage was done. General appre- hension, however, still exists, as the fires are still smouldering, and any sudden gust of wind may fan them into renewed activity. Rain is longed for by everybody as the only hope of deliverance.
MELBOURNE, February 8.
The heat wave settled down on Mel- bourne again to-day, and the thermometer registered up to 103deg. in the shade. The hot northerly winds set in at day- break; and fanned the bush fires into renewed activity. The most serious report is from Foster, one of the Gippsland towns, surrounded by bush and scrub. The morning was hot and sultry, with hot
blasts from the north, which were increasing in volume and strength as noon approached. An hour later a large fire was seen near Long's, and another skirting the green timber near Mirboo-road. Dense smoke covered the town, and grave fears
were entertained for the safety of some .
houses. But the awfulness of the visita- tion in the afternoon was never anticipated. The flames came sweeping towards the town with wonderful rapidity, and an urgent telegram was sent to the Railway Commissioners asking for a special train to be sent for the relief of the inhabitants.
The arrival of the train gave a feeling of intense relief. Many houses were burnt to the ground, but happily the residents
A telegram from Leongatha reports further destruction from bush fires.
Several houses with all their contents were reduced to ashes, and there were also heavy losses of hay and grain, fencing and out- buildings.
Several homesteads in the Kircunda district were also swept away, and the flames are threatening others.
Horsham reports a continuance of dread- ful heat. The thermometer was 110deg. in the shade to-day. The fires in the Grampians are still raging. Carter's Rosbrook homestead, which was menaced, was saved, but Mr. Carter lost 2,000 acres of grass. The flames attacked Elliott Bros. Brimpain station, and did immense damage, but the homestead and out- buildings were saved.