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GREAT FIRE IN ASHBURTON.

£3OOO WORTH OF PROPERTY DESTROYED. On Saturday night the first fire of any consequence that has occurred in Ashburtcft- took place, resulting in the total destruction of a block of I uildinga in Tancred street. The block destroyed was separated by a narrow right-of-way, on the west, from a dwelling-house at the rear of Messrs. Orr and Co.’s, temporarily used by that firm as a lumber warehouse. This building was again detached by a pretty wide yard from Orr and Co’s, main store that fronts- East street, and forms the corner of the lino of shops terminating to the south in Messrs. Friedlander Brothers store. On the east of the shops destroyed a large two-storey building stands, separated by a vacant building site from the scene of the fire, and occupied by Mr. J. R. Chapman, as a paint-shop, and by Mr. W. T. Davidson as a fruiterer and greengrocer’s shop, both of these gentlemen using the upper rooms as dwelling-houses. There were three establishments in the block destroyed—Mr. Hicks’ bakery being in the western end, Mr. Joseph Hyde’s tinsmith-fhop on the eastern, while the Centre wj s the store of Mr. John Fowler.

The file originated, as far as yet can be ascertained, in Mr Fowler’s store, in the upper portion, to the back. He and hia son and employees had closed the establishment at ten o’clock, having made their customary inspection of the premises before finally leaving. At that time, no sign of any danger was visible. They had not been gone more than a quarter of an hour, however, before a messenger in hot baste overtook them as they were entering Mr. Fowler’s house, in Moore street, with the intelligence that the store was on fire, and by half-past ten the alarm bell had brought a large crowd to the scene. Between the ringing of the fire bell, however, and the arrival of the fire engine, the flames had time to take a good hold upon the building. Not that any delay occurred in the arrival of the brigade or their plant, but the flames travelled very rapidly -and the many willing hands who tendered aid were only able to save a very few articles of Mr. Fowler’s stock.

Regarding the alarm, we would here remark that the new bell tower for the ' fire brigade has not been erected a moment too soon, and the bell that we learn is to be hung this week will not be hung any too early. For there are many people in Ashburton, and some members of the brigade, too, who never heard the bell at all Fortunately, the discovery of the fire was made at a time in the evening before all the shops were closed, and when most of the tradespeople were about their premises, and this fact accounts for the rapid gathering of a crowd of helpers on the spot. As soon as the fire engine was brought upon the ground it was attached to the double pipe well recently sunk by the Corporation just by the large boarding house opposite Mr Chapmans establishment, and it is satisfactory to state that for fully two hours the pump was kept hard at work without any sign beinggiven of the water failing. A constant stream was kept up by the pump through two lines of hose, and for a short time the brigade tried to extinguish the flames in the burning building. It was soon ap T parent, however, that efforts in that direction were useless, and attention was at once turned to saving the adjoining buildings. In this the brigade were valiantly aided by many of the citizens, and displays of courage and gallantry were made in not a few instances. A number of men got upon the roof of Mr Chapman’s house, and, despite the intense heat, kept the western portion of the roof and the gable drenched with water supplied in buckets from below. Amongst these we recognised the features of Mr George Vincent perched in a position of danger on the very ridge of the roof; and though the heat was great he stuck nobly to the place he had chosen for himself. There were many others we saw equally hard working on the same building, though we did hot recognise them. On Messrs. Orr and Co.’s building quite a little knot of plucky fellows took post, and kept the wall .covered with wet blankets, and a supply of water continually to renew soaking them. Amongst these gentlemen we observed Messrs. George Jameson, James Scott, Fred. Duncan, A. Grant and ‘ Guy,' as well as others whom we could not recognise in the smoke. The pumps were manned by volunteers and after about an hour’s work the brigade and those who had .assisted them had the satisfaction of seeing the fire spend itself on the building it first seized, without spreading across either right-of way. For some time, however, owing to the intense heat, the houses to east and west were in great danger, and well as Mr Spillard’ashop on the other side of the street, the old A 1 restaurant, and the new establishment further east, recently entered upon by Mr. Truckle. In fact the A 1 two or three times did catch fire to some extent, but the flames were soon extinguished. With such appliances as the firemen had, they and those who helped them, did noble work, and the township has every reason to be proud of them. They wote unable to save the buildings in which the fire arose, but they prevented the fire from spreading beyond them, and for that they deserve the thanks of the community ; for had the flames extended to some of the adjoining blocks there was great danger that East street might have been swept away. As it is, damage to the extent of £3,000 has been done, and the painful feature of the case is that Mr. Hyde’s insurance policy only lapsed a few weeks ago, and being unable to renew it, he is. now penniless. His whole stock and furniture, and all his belongings, have been swept away by the fire, and he and his wife and family of eight have been left with only what they stand up in. Mr. Fowler is, we believe, insured in the Standard lor £7OO on his stock, which he values at about £1,200; and for £4OO on the building in theßouth British, and £2OO in the .-London, and Lancashire. Mr. HiA* won also insured for £l5O on his stock, add £IOO on his furniture in the London and Lancashire. Mr. Amos, proprietor Of Mr Hyde’s shop, was insured for £l5O in the Standard. Amongst the other aids given to the fire brigade was that of the private hose of the bank which Mr. Shury got into position. This was lengthened by a stretch of hose procured from Mr, Quill’s hotel, and the jet thus thrown, even though the two hose were of diffarentsizes and joined badly, waa not without its value in keeping the blankets jret on Orr and Go’s., building. '

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GREAT FIRE IN ASHBURTON. Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 23, 18 November 1879

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