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________________     FAMILIES HOMELESS      

Melbourne, February 7.    

The heat in several of the country towns       was so intense that all work had to

be suspended and horses stabled. Bush     fires, have been raging in various parts of  

the State, and the township of Longwood     is threatened with extinction. The rail- way station was only saved by superhuman

efforts, and some of the farmers in the dis-   trict had marvellous escapes from death in trying to save their stock. The town- ship                   raipidly-tiravelling fire. At Branxholm» there was great destruction of property. An old resident, Charles MclniUwh, waa burnt to death, and several other people

were badly injured. The 'train irom Pon> . land was unable to get tlirough, and quit« a number of houses have been bvvept away,

Melbourne, February 8       Bush fires throughout the State have       ravaged most districts worse than a tor-     nado. Valuable properties have been swept  

away, and numerous families rendered   homeless, whilst several people have fallen  

victims to the fires that the beaters could'   not turn back. The Western district, which suffered so severely last year;-has again suf - fered severely. Hamilton, enshrouded with

smoke and blackened by dust, was yester- ,

day afternoon panic-stricken. Men   ran in terror here and there only        

to find when the smoke lifts that they had been running in circles. The fire which caused all this alarm and

confusion started five miles from Hamilton,-     and fanned by a strong north wind swept majestically and irresistibly along. Grass, fencing, trees, and stock went down before it. Houses were threatened, but escaped, some being charred, some half burnt; some were as though tarcoated. The estate of Mr. A. J. Simpson, a well-known breeder of

Shropshires, was entirely devastated. The woolsheds and sheep sheds were swept away, whilst the homestead was only saved by a miracle. A little further on a farmhouse was destroyed, and the family saved only what they wore. They were found on the ruins terror-stricken and famished.

Byaduk, a fair-sized township, a few miles further on, barely exists. In Lower Bya- duk. three houses alone stand out of as original fifteen, and families are dependent on hospitable neighbours. Nothing was saved not a stick of furniture, and women

and children, who has dashed out of the   houses, just in time to save their lives had to stand by and see a mass of flame lick up their homes. People, with cloth- ing burning , rushed to the creeks and dams

and stood therein, while with hurri-     cane force and cyclonic speed the fire swept

past them. actually singing their hair. To-   day, the smoking and charred ruins are hor- rible to look upon. On one big station

2,000 sheep were roasted. Six hundred, all     huddled in one spot, stand out as a land mark of horrible devastation. A mile   or two further along, at the Murron Es- tate, nearly 3,000 sheep -were roasted and

charred; and the estate, excepting the homestead, which escaped, was cleaned, as though an American blizzard had passed over it. Fully ten thousand sheep, much, valuable stock, and machinery, many sheds, houses, and outbuildings in this district have disappeared.

Casterton and the adjoining country is a

mass of smoke, banked up like, a river fog,     only more so. The fire which caused this  

started on Wednesday, burned all night till Thursday, and then fanned by a heavy north wind, swept along toward Condah,

and is now covering 30 miles of country, and still burning. Old residents sat that Black Thursday did not exceed in the fierce intensity and devastation of yester-

day's fire. . The railway line between MUR* kite, and Branxholme is a < wireck. There. ?> were-many hair-breadth escapes, and the

loss of efcoekjcrops, and fencing has been, - * enormous. The train due in Casterton aitv ' ' ' 8.20 on Thursday night did not arrive till

this morning. Camperdown suffered eevet ¡~

rely, the railway bridges and culverts" be- ~ \

ing burnt, and farms and stations devas- - tated; ? At Dundonald the newly-erected. Presbyterfian Church was blown down, and the roofs of houses and sheds were scat* tered by the terrific gale which raged last

night. l


Melbourne, February 8, 10 p.m.

The Birregurra district, hear CoJac, has"

suffered moat intensely. Not only has pro- ' * perty and stock gone, bat valuable hvea

have been saerifiçed. A spark from a j passing train caused 'the fire, «winch has al- ready accounted for five- laves,- with ifcwo

others still hanging in the balance. The'" ' damage to ¡the counltry .at present is íncaa« euäable. The Yoe Vale .'homestead, wool«

sheds, and machinery were completely de¿ \

-molkhöd. It was alt this spot 1 that plucky

firefighters were èo severely burnt as t« **' necessiitate their' removal to the" Colac Hoa

pîtal. The Deep Deane, property was als< , destroyed, and the township of. Birregurra had a narrow escape. of total destruotaon, With a gale of wind behind it the fare swept on in such a way that-no man could stand

before its fierce intensity. House after -, house was swallowed up; and: "Wie manager

of the Colonial. Bank had ¡ his wife , and family in a tank to save their lives» Three sturdy Ht'tle fellows were burned U

dearth. In itíhe panic and confusion thi / two boys of 'Mr. McCafllum, aged 10 and

11, and aboy naimed 'McDonald, ageST^u,

got separated from their people. Subse-"j-' quently an alarm -was given/but st was

not until this mornong that their charred - remains were found. Blinded by smoke,»

with flames allround them, they had strug""^ gled 'to ithe last. Their bodies were withis a yarrd or two of each otiher. Beach foresi is still in flames, and the navvies on the railway there -only succeeded in saving their tents. A man, John O'brien, whilst rid< ing through Charley Creek, was overtaken by the fire. His horse plunged and threw him, (breaking his leg. He -was badly ¡burnt, and now lies in ibhe Colac Hospital King well, one. of lobe firefighters, was so ?badly burnt yesterday that 'be daed in the Colac Hospital this evening, and two other« are in an extremely critical condition. The injured men are William Laribell, William James, jun., Oliver Clifton, and William Wells, all of whom may succumb.

A fierce fire swept through the Yielima ""

State forest in the Nathalia district yeäter- , day and to-day, practically, destroying it.

The damage is great, and will seriously af- * feet the red-gum industry by reason of the ~ - large number of young/trees destroyed ~ *"* ;

Avenel, in the north-eastern district, has been scourged for miles and miles wiitin the fiercest bush fire ever known in the district,

The extent of the fire is 25 miles bv 13 J miles. At one thne yesterday the Sjd-nej -

express and other trains travellrng in thi ^'

north-eastern .district had to pass between ^. walls of fire. From all over the State re porte are being received of great iheat and bush, fires.