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THE VICTORIAN BUSH FIRES.
MR. T. HOWE'S RESIDENCE AT BIRREGURRA.
Th« first week of this month will long be re-
membered in Victoria, by reason of the terrible ; hush fires which swept over large áreas, doing en- . ormous damage to improvements and stock, and killing ait least seven persons. The mere list of losses would run into columns. Tens of thous- ands of acres of grapes were swept, numerous homesteads destroyed, and many farmers utterly ruined. 'At Byaduk, in the Hamilton district, for instance, the scene was appalling. Out of fifteen buildings at Lower Byaduk, only three are stand- ing, and mothers with families are dependent on the hospitality of people about for food. The north wind sent the fire with cyclonic force on to the little village, and the dwellings of Wm. Green, Mrs. Mason, John M'Leod, Jaimes Hassett, Wm. Killeen (two dwellings), C. M'Kenzie, (L. Minean, R. M'Lsan, and P. Holmes, and the Free Presbyte- rian Church, were 'burnt to the ground, none ot the owners saving anything, and many of the wo- men and children barely escaping wdth their lives. The clothes of several caught alight, and the un- fortunate people had to Immense themselves in creeks and dams. The hotel caught alight seve- ral time3, but was saved. Mr. R. T. Carty, Bris- bane Hill, had his run swept, an« his fine home- stead and the woolshed, men's hut, and «tablea destroyed. Mr. Thomson's Monivae Estate suf- fered heavily. It ls supposed that 2000 sheep wero roasted. -Some 600 are lying dead in one spot. Mr. Thomas Robertson's Murroa Estate ls practically all burnt over, but he saved the homestead. He lost about 2000 sheep. Messrs.. Fraser Brothers lost 640 acres of grass. The loss on Mr. A. G. Stewart Lyne's estate is about 4000 acres, and some 400 sheep. Mr. Wm. Christie lost 1000 acres of grase and 150 sheep; Mr. J. M'L>ean, Camp Creek, a large number of sheep, and his home- stead; Mr. J. B. Kinghorn, Black Hill, 170 acres of grass and 200 sheep; Mr. Peter Christie, Blink Bonnie, 400 acres; and Mr. John Christie, Gar- vald Vale, 80 Lincoln ewes. At Buckley Swamp Mr. John M'Lean lost stables, sheds, machinery, (harness, and 200 acres of grass; Hector Morrison, 250 sheep; Messrs. Angus and Archibald M'Dou gall, 400 acres; Mr. James Steel, woolshed, hay, and sheep; Mrs. Kirkwood, house, sheds, reaper and binder, three cows. The S>tate school here was also burnt. 'At Moree, about eleven miles from Harrow, Mrs. Penrose Jost 950 sheep out of 1000; Mrs. James Boland, 750 bags of wheat; Mr. Bur- gess, a stack of hay, a chaff-cutter, and chaff ihouae; Mr. M'Donnell, a stack of hay, stables, and outhouses; Mr. Martin, dwelling-house, furniture,
stables, and all the outbuild- ings, only the stock being saved; Messrs. Groves and J. Daly, stables and outhouses. On the Spring Valley Estate and that of M'Lean Brothers the woolsheds were destroyed.
Several narrow escapes from ?' loss of life are reported from there. At Branxholme the cemetery was swept by the flames, and the grave en- closures and fences destroyed. Mr. M'Millan, whose home- stead was burnt down, lost £140 in notes in the fire. In the Buninyong district the principal sufferers included Mr. Skelton, Green Hill; and Mr. Patrick Dineen. The eight-roomed residence of Miss Dick, Glencoe Gully, was also burnt down. House and furniture were insured. At nearly all points horses, cattle, sheep, and birds suc- cumbed to the great beat. Goldstraw's sawmills, at Con- ley's Creek, near Camppr down. were burnt down. The building was valued at £500, and was uninsured. Morgan's mill, a mile away, was also partly burnt. At Dundonnell, a few miles ; from Camper- down, the newly-erected Presbyterian church was blown down and completely wrecked. A portion of the post office át Darlington was
also blown down.
Five lives were lost at Birregurra, three of them being lads, who were sur- rounded in the bush while
viewing the conflagration. A man was burnt to death at Cas- terton, and a woodcutter, who was burnt from head to foot at Anakie, died from his injuries.
-Queenstown (Tas.) was visited by fires during the last week in January, but on February 8 one of the worst in the annals of the town broke out.
A big fire started in the neigh- borhood of the Mount Lyell Com- pany's smelting plant, and the town was soon full of smoke. At about 2 p.m. the wind shifted to the north-west, and blew with hurricane force. For the next four hours Queenstown was a perfect inferno. The settle- ment in Conglomerate Creek was swept by the flames, and the fire then attacked the town proper, rushing on to the southern end of Bowes-street and Denison street, the former being one of the principal residential streets in the eastern side of the town. Meanwhile, another tre- mendous fire swept down Rag- gedy Creek, and yet another arose between Queenstown and Lynchford. The south-eastern side of the town was now the only side of the town free from fire and smoke, and the glare in all parts of the town was posi- tively blinding. Business was entirely suspended, and most of the shops were shut, as
SCENE AFTER THE FIRE % AT BIRREGURRA.
RESERVE WHERE BODIES OF THREW BOYS WERE FOUND.
the owners were away in the residential portions of the town endeavoring to save their dwellings. The greatest battle with the flames was in Bowes street. Families could be seen hurrying through the blinding smoke and thick dust towards the Montague Hotel, some carrying a portion of their belongings, others conducting little children. On the sides of the road were scattered heaps of fur- niture, hastily snatched from burning houses, or carefully gathered from dwellings which it was feared were in the fire's track. At the top of Bowes-street Hill the wind blew with hurricane force. It was impossible to make any effort to check the flames, for water was not obtainable In sufficient quantities on the hill top, and the fury of the wind and flames was too tremendous to be overcome. Men and women clustered about their houses and watched the ap- proach of the flames in their direction. Housfs which stood yards from even a glimmer of fire suddenly broke into flames, and blazed with fear- ful fierceness under the influence of the gale. The horror and danger of the scene were added to by the unroofing of houses by the force of tho gale. Sheafs of galvanised iron were hurled here and there, though fortunately no one wss struck. The Aro seemed likely to sweep the whole length of Bowes-street, but the wind shift- ed a point or two and sent the flames to the east, away from the town. It then became possible to fight the flames, and save other houses in Bowes street, and this was successfully done. S~on after 6 o'clock the worst seemed to be r»ver. To- wards 8 o'clock a ff>w dr^ps of rain fell, and at midnight a fairly heavy shower. During tho night a few more houses were destroyed, but the greatest fury of the fire had already been spent. About sixty houses were burnt. About twenty houses and huts were destroyed at Conglomerate
Greek and fifteen or more dwellings in Bowes street and Denison-street, five up Raggedy Creek, three on the hill above Sorrell-street, two on the hill above Urquhart-street, and two at top of Cut ten-street, in South Queenstown. Seven houses in Fysch-street were demolished, while three were burnt" at the top of Braden-street. The Railway Hotel narrowly escaped destruction, the fire gain .V ing hold of the premises through an open win . dow.
At Gormanston, Tas., the same day, there was also a sensational time. At about noon the wind rose, and the fire broke out a mile below Linda Valley township, along the North Mount Lyell raliway line. The fire could at first have been easily subdued, but no steps were taken. Within an hour Mount Lyell, which was heavily wooded, was in flames. In Linda Valley ten dwellings were destroyed. The men employed at the Mount Lyell Company's mine were allowed to leave work to save their homes. At 4 o'clock the town of Gormanston was enveloped in smoke, and seriously threatened by the fire. .'Tho flames came within 50 yards of Stevenson's:vH«Hel, which was saved with difficulty. The-, whole rf - the townspeople turned; out, and the roads ywere Riled with goods of all descriptions taken.'from-houses supposed to be in danger. ^.The ¡fires^eventually burnt out. Towards dusk the- fire'recommenced in the vicinity of Gormanston, andîswëpt up to- wards North Mount Lyell. The latter' township was saved)' though very seriously threatened, only two dwellings in the valley below the township being destroyed.
It ls certain that ants intentionally sanction the residence of certain insects in their nests. Th's is the case, for instance, with a curious b'ind beatle, which Is absolutely dependent upon ants. 'It spems to have even lost the power of feeding Itself; et any rate, it ls habitually feed by tho little insects.