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HAILSTORM RUINS APPLE CROPS Heavy Mt. Barker Loss; Other Areas Suffer A fierce hailstorm, the worst since 1925, which swept a large area of the Mt. Barker district yesterday afternoon, stripped apple trees, cut the fruit to pieces, ruined clover-sweeping operations and caused damage estimated at many thousands of pounds.
The hailstorm was de scribed last night as a district tragedy. It is believed to have seri ously affected 100 out of 180 orchardists in a long strip of country running from the north-west. SElectrical storms in the agri pultural and Goldfields areas of the State yesterday started fires, interrupted railway traffic and caused heavy downpours of rain in widely-scattered dis tricts. Railway dams benefited con siderably from the storms and as a result rail haulage of water in some districts will be curtailed. The best falls were recorded between Northam and Mullewa and Yalgoo and Mt. Magnet. The level in some of the dams rose by 2ft. to 4ft. and further rises are expected. Cut To Pieces The fierce hailstorm in the Mr. Barker district struck with un heralded violence at 4 o'clock yes terday afternoon. In 40 minutes it-had. swept a fertile portion of the district's fruitgrowmng area and left a trail of ruin in its wa e. .#astones as large as pigeons' eggs were whipped down by a snarling north-easterly gale and the wind rose to a strength of ap proximately 40 m.p.h. Damage was caused to buildings in the township, including broken win dows and bashed roofs, but this was insignificant compared to the havoc wrought in the hinterland. The real damage was in a fer tile agricultural area where apple crops were almost totally ruined. The jagged hail, coupled with the driving force of the wind, cut the fruit to pieces. Several orchard ists reported yesterday afternoon that their crops were a total loss. Many others are believed to have been spoilt. A big proportion of fruit in the area will be unfit either for ex port or for the local market and much of it will never be har vested. It is expected that many trees will be damaged for next year's crop. Not Insured It was stated last night that most of the fruit in the area af fected was not insured against . hail and that direct losses to growers would run into some thousands of pounds. After the hailstorm rain fell continuously and a rain gauge at Egypt, on the L. A. K. Sounness Estate, registered 150 points. This was expected to have a disastrous effect on the subterranean clover seed sweeping .operations in pro gress in the area. It had been expected that clover-sweeping would continue for a further four to six weeks. but now it is unlikely that further sweeping will be possible. One farmer had £900 worth of clover swept. After the rain all that' was left was the equivalent of about one bag. The washing away of topsoil in orchards is another factor that will cause indirect losses. The ultimate overall damage is ex pected to run into many thou sands of pounds. Fires On Farms During a severe electrical storm over Bindoon yesterday afternoon a vivid flash of lightning started two 'fires within a few chains. While the first fire on Mr. D. W. Martin's property was being extinguished, the second fire on Mr. H. C. Martin's adjoining pro perty gained a hold, seriously menacing a new homestead and several feed paddocks. A call for help brought a ready response from neighbours and the outbreak was under control in about half an hour. A large portion of a number of fences was washed out on a farming property west of Cunder din when 85 points of rain fell in a short time. On the Great Eastern-highway a concrete spill way was completely covered. Ap parently about 2ft. to 3ft. of water had been over the road. Telephone services were dis ruted west of the town when lihtning brought down overhead wires. When lightning struck a house in a high part of the town ship a fuse blew and started a fire in weatherboards on the Shouse. But for the quick action
of a neighbour who smothered the flames with a blanket the house would have been burnt. A Kellerberrin motorist on the road was troubled with a boiling radiator. When forced to stop he found himself surrounded by acres of floodwaters. The radiator was refilled with the only receptacle on board-a drinking glass. Rail Washaways Floodwaters from the storms caused a train derailment near Bullfinch on Monday night and also delayed the Kalgoorlie ex press at Waeel for about an hour. The express was halted because of a flooded culvert about a mile west of Cunderdin. Late yesterday afternoon the main railway line between Nor tham and Merredin was out of service because of a washaway between Baandee and Doodlakine. Two stock trains travelling to Midland Junction were held up, but the line was repaired in time for the express from Perth to Kalgoorlie to pass over the sec tion during the night. The derailment on Monday night vias caused by a washaway on the line near Perilya Siding, about five miles from Bullfinch. An engine and three trucks of a train travelling to Southern Cross left the lines. No person was hurt and no serious damage was done to the train. The line was flooded for about 50 minutes before the arrival of the train when about 2in. of rain fell in a sudden cloudburst. The engine was travelling slowly over the section when the accident oc curred. Two passengers and the train crew were taken on to Southern Cross by road. Rail gangs worked throughout the night and yesterday on the section and prepared the line for normal traffic this morning.