Severe Bushfires Devastate Gippsland - Friday, 25 February 1898
Severe Bushfires Devastate Gippsland - Friday, 25 February 1898 From "Australia Through Time" - Random House Aus. P/L Year 1898 Severe Bushfires Devastate Gippsland Friday, 25 February A courageous farming couple, caught amid the raging Gippsland bushfires, have miraculously saved their six children from death. Mr. J Holt and his wife covered their children, including a three month-old baby, with wet blankets and lay them down on the floor of their house. While the children sat out the blaze their parents beat back the flames to save the Neerim East homestead. "All day on Wednesday the fire roared and surged through the forest behind the house, growing nearer with every fresh gust of the strong north wind" today's Melbourne Argus reported. "The air was full of sparks and burning pieces of timber, and Mr. and Mrs. Holt plied their bags soaked in water and their mops and clothes with frenzied energy to prevent the house from catching. "Presently the smoke became so dense that the suffocation of the entire family became imminent, but Mrs. Holt's ingenuity was spurred to fresh inventiveness by the pressing danger and she devised a plan by which she saved the lives of all her six children.... "She made the younger children lie down on the ground, and covered them over with sacks, which were kept constantly saturated with water... Then the husband dug a small hole in the ground, and in it they placed the baby, covering it over with sacks. "...and in this strange cradle the sturdy infant of this courageous couple went peacefully to sleep, lulled by the roaring of the conflagration and the thunder of the falling trees," the Argus reported. The incident has highlighted the "unswerving courage with which the men and women of the bush can face the risk of death in its most horrifying shape," according to the Argus. The toll of the devastating fire is rising daily. The district of Neerim is the worst hit to date; countless numbers of settlers have lost their homes and stock, and many have tragically lost their lives. The Argus reported widespread suffering in the area but applauded the "extraordinary resourcefulness" of Mr. and Mrs. Holt. Their astonishing tale has given hope to other victims of the Gippsland bushfires.
|Last change|| January 30, 2012 – 15:54:04|
by: Malcolm Holt