A great fire

In the vicinity of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea: the magnificent scenery at the head of the Makarora...
In the vicinity of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea: the magnificent scenery at the head of the Makarora Valley, showing the David Glacier. - Otago Witness, 14.10.1914.
Under the influence of the heavy north-west gale which blew yesterday the smouldering fires which are stated to have started on the Leith-Waitati saddle about last Tuesday and travelled to Mount Cargill burst into vivid flames, which spread with great rapidity.

The warm winds which have been experienced since Tuesday - at first from the south-west and yesterday from the north-east - have had a drying effect on the grass, and, the fire once fully alight, soon spread in all directions.

Yesterday fires were observed on Mount Cargill, on Signal Hill, and on the hill above Logan's quarry, and vast clouds of smoke drifted from these across the harbour, in places quite blotting out the view.

Fortunately the fire above the quarry did not live long, while that at Signal Hill also appeared late in the afternoon to have burnt itself out.

On the Leith-Waitati saddle and Mount Cargill, however, a different tale has to be told.

Late last night a Daily Times reporter visited the scenes of the fire, and was astonished at the extent of the conflagration.

The outbreak appears to have started somewhere near the Leith-Waitati saddle, and thence spread across the top of the spur at Pine Hill to Mount Cargill.

It is no exaggeration to say that the whole of the mountain is ringed with flame - fallen logs one mass of colour; dead pine trees, which have not yet fallen to the hand of time, are bright-coloured flame from root to pinnacle; while here and there bunches of scrub and undergrowth were burning fiercely.

The fire has run on right to the Waitati end of the mountain, and has spread down into the gully on the left-hand side going north and then inland to what are termed the Ragged Teeth, in which locality the stream which taps the city water service from the Waitati has its source.

Down in this gully the flames were in full blast, and are marching on towards the hills overlooking the township of Waitati.

So far, however, they have not crept down towards the little seaside village.

There is a danger, however, that they will do so.

The fire is pretty well confined to the left-hand side of the road leading north to Waitati, but just in the hills heading down into the township some spots of flame are making their appearance on the right-hand side.

Furthermore, all round the steep road which breaks off from the Junction road and leads down into Sawyers' Bay the bush and logs are ablaze, and the flames are pushing on down the sides of the hill towards the harbour.

The whole of the Woodhaugh Valley, however, is apparently free at present from fire, but the north-east wind may at any time fan the flames along this quarter.

There are miles of country now under fire, and it is hard to say how the onward march is to be stopped - that is, if rain does not soon set in.

The wind last night blew with hurricane force on the hillsides, and the Junction road was at times quite obscured with the surging dust storms which it raised, while the smoke was also very heavy.

The fires have now covered such a great amount of country that it is quite impossible to try, fanned as they are by a violent gale of wind, to check them by the aid of man.

If the wind drops, the damage will be lessened, but it will require heavy rain to entirely subdue the flames.

There was only one thing which out-vied the brilliancy of the fires last night as they crackled and licked up the fresh fuel: that was the great bursts of lightning which every now and again lit up the sky over the summit of Mount Cargill and blazed on the tops of the Ragged Teeth. - ODT, 10.10.1914.


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