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VICTORIAN BUSH FIRES

TREMENDOUS DAMAGE.

A SENSATIONAL ESCAPE.

Melbourne, February 10,

Thursday and Friday's bush fires, many of which are still burning, did more dam- age than any since the famous "Black Thursday." The Portland district has been devastated. The town was ringed with fire and enveloped with smoke, which blotted out the sun, and an intense darkness" set- tled over the place, increased by dense clouds of dust. The main body of the fire -swept down on the town from the north- west, and then when the wind changed it headed back southward.

A party of six teamsters had a sensational experience and a marvellous escape. They were in charge of three wagons heavily laden with timber, and when they had gone about eight miles through the forest the fire was upon them. They could not turn back. A great wall of fire hemmed them in. They went forward as fast and as far as they could amid smoke and falling trees, and managed to reach Portland parched and blackened. At one place the fire, which travelled with marvellous rapidity, swept through miles of country, and actually burnt brushwood on the sea beach, being only put out by actual contact with the

waves.

The fires in the Geelong district, which did damage not yet estimated, but which must total (thousands, was started at Haugh 'ton Vale by a swagman boiling a billy. It was in this fire that a woodcutter named Northfield lost his life. Thousands of acres of grass have been hurrat and miles of fenc- ing destroyed, while several thousand sheep

were roasted.

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