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several successive days, poured down with a horrid noise. The fire-stream was consequently very much diminished, but when the great lake was at length filled, and when the lava, by continual supplies from its principal source, had risen to a considerable height in the valley between Skaptartunga and Aa, then the stream extended itself much farther over the lowlands. Frightful noises and sounds that caused the whole place to tremble, strong claps of thunder and constant lightnings, prevented the inhabitants from taking any rest between the 14th and 15th of June. The burning lava was seen at that time to overflow the farm Nes, in Skaptartunga, together with the whole of the adjacent country, and, among other places, several that were well wooded between this farm and Skalarstapi, in Sida. Another arm proceeded eastward from this place, passing by the farms Skal and Holt, where it stopped several days; but during that period burned the wood-lands called Brandeland, belonging to Kirkebai-cloister.
On the 13th previous, several persons had endeavored to go up into the mountains in order to discover the real source of the fire, and the extent of the mischief that had ensued from it in the district; but the thick smoke issuing from the lava made their attempt quite impracticable. Nothing could be seen but the stream that had filled up the Skaptaa, together with innumerable firespouts, which rose out of the river, close by Ulfarsdal and a long way towards the north.
The fire-stream. During the ensuing three days, till the 18th of June, the fire spread itself slowly towards the south and southwest, from Skal over the old lava-tracts. It penetrated the innermost and most concealed crevices, by which means the old lava was as it were lifted up from its original bed; and formed into a number of hills. It did not, however, suffer itself to be so removed without a strange whistling kind of noise, caused by the fire forcing the air from the subterraneous caves through the cracks and narrow openings. Sand and earth were only slightly scorched by the fire, and it had but little effect upon the grey-stone (graasteen); but, on the contrary, it penetrated into the smallest fissures, and pores of the old lava, which was soon melted, flowing with the new, and often taking fire itself. Thus, when an old niece of lava was melted, it immediately lighted that with which it was in contact, and so continued till the whole was on fire. It is remarkable that, during the melting of this lava, the uppermost crust remained in its original state, so that large pieces might be taken out of the fire-stream which had the appearance of beaten metal. The stream forced itself downward, where it continued its progress, throwing the abovementioned crust up into the air or to the sides of the current, in which situation it remained for some time, burning in a pure steady flame. Wherever the fire-stream had in this manner forced its way under hills and rocks, they were, by means of the heated subterraneous vapors, thrown into the air with prodigious force and a dreadful noise. It may easily be conceived what a horrible crackling must attend the bursting asunder of such immense masses of rock, many of them from an hundred and twenty to an hundred and eighty feet in height; but how much more terrifying must be the fall
ing of these bodies, when the velocity is so much accelerated by the vast height to which they are generally thrown. During these days the fire increased so much in redness, and spread itself in so great a degree over Sidumanna Afrett*, towards the south, on account of a northerly wind then blowing, that several farmers residing on the heaths actually fled with all their cattle and moveables, frightened at the immense conflagration, which, though at a considerable distance from them, appeared to be quite in the vicinity.
New eruption On the 18th of June, a most of lava, dreadful eruption of lava again broke out among the mountains. In those places where the Skaptaa had not been quite filled up, the lava was now observed to rise to a height, far exceeding that of the steep
* Afretur, in Icelandic, signifies a wild and uninhabited tract of mountains, covered with grass, where sheep and cattle are sent to fatten in the summer. The tract here alluded to belonged to the Sidumen, or Men of Sida, that is, people who resided on Sida, and therefore it is called Sidumanna qfrettur. est mountains that enclosed the river, and to rush forward over such tracts as had previously been destroyed, and even so far as the utmost extremities of the current which had cooled and become stationary.
In the middle of the lava were to be seen red-hot rocks, which the stream had torn from their beds. A thick, white, and suffocating steam issued from the two rivers that had been intercepted by the fire, and were constantly boiling; and the vast quantity of hot water, which overflowed the meadows and pasture-lands, did no inconsiderable damage, especially near the farms Svinadal and Hvaam, in Skaptunge, as well as in the eastern quarter, where a tract of woodlands belonging to Skaptardal was totally destroyed.
Progress of the 0n the 19th of June the fire tire-stream. exten(je(j much farther, dividing itself into two branches; the one rushing on, with the same rapidity as it did the preceding day, in a southern direction along the river Melquiol and over Medalland: the