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On Saturday evening, one of the most destructive tires which have taken place in Timaru since the great fire of 1808, occurred, the result being the total destruction of the Wailangi Mills, situate on the beach. From the local 'journal, and ihe message from their special correspondent published by the Lyttelton Ti.iies, we gather the following :—About twenty minutes past six o’clock the first alarm was sounded by the Police camp bell, followed a few minutes afterwards by the Brigade Station bell. The brigade turned out promptly, but before they reached the scene with their engine the two upper storeys were enveloped in flames, and the whole of the roof of the building was on fire. As it was hopeless to save the flour mill, the fire brigade directed their attention to preventing the spread of the fire to the large timber mills, which are distant about a chain from the flour mill. Their task was rendered more difficult on account of a temporary corrugated iron building having been erected between the twomilla. This mill was packedfull of sacks of wheat. Tin's danger overcome, attention was directed to the timber mill, and a steady stream of water was kept playinw on that portion of it which was most exposed to the fire. Mr Bruce, too, with much forethought, let the steam off in the sawmill engine, thus cooling the ' inner portion of the mill, and helping materially to save the building, Having given the sawmill a good drenching, and being satisfied all danger had been averted in that direction, attention was turned to the flour mill, which now resembled a huge furnace. The only part which it seemed at all possible to save was the engine house. The wail of the roof adjoining the western wall of the mill had been set alight by burning pieces of timber falling' from the main roof into the gutter, and on to this the hose was brought to play. The Brigade were successful in subduing the fire at this spot, and thus saved the two fine boilers from injury—the only portion of the ffour mill which escaped. By the time this work was completed the three upper floors of the flour mill had fallen through, and nothing but immense heaps of burning produce were to be seen inside the building. The north and south walls had expanded with the extreme heat, and stood out of line some two or three feet ; the eastern wall, owing probably to the expansion of the former and the pressure on it of the grain which was stacked on that side of the building, gave way, and about a third of the centre part fell outwards and across the railway line. Within an hour the destruction of the mill was complete, the only part escaping, as before stated, being the two boilers There were over 3,000 people present at the fire, and the sight was a grand one. 1 Mr Jones, station master, telegraphed to St. Andrews to stop the evening train from the south, and signalmen were sent 1 along to Saltwater Creek to prevent the train approaching. These efforts were effectual, the train bringing up a short distance from the fire. As to the origin of ' the fire, nothing is known. The mill was 1 shut up at 5 o’clock by Mr Robert Wood, 1 who was the last to leave it, and there was then no sign of fire. Mr Bruce 1 thinks that, as it broke out in the top • storey, it must have been caused by some of the workmen smoking, as otherwise no fire could possibly have got there. Mr i, Bruce, and Mr Julius Mendelson, of . Temuka, are heavy losers by the five, i The loss is a serious one for the district, i as the mills were in full work, and the > firm was just opening up a large trade in i exporting flour to England, and other ! parts of the colony. The mill and machinery were valued, about six months ago, at 1)10,000. The insurances on the , building, stock, and machinery amount ' to L 7,000, distributed as follows :—New Zealand Office, L 3,000 ; Union, L 2,000 ; I London and Lancashire, LI,OOO ; South British, IT,OOO. This sum t does not cover one-half the value of ’ the building and machinery, which were estimated in February. The stock consumed in the building is approximately p given at 6,000 bushels of wheat, 130 tons of flour, 25 tons of oatmeal, 3 tons of ' pearl barley, and between 2,000 and 3,000 bushels offal. The insurance on the stock, which is included in the L 7.000, was 1 L 1,500, so that this amount, as with the building and machinery, is ’less than onehalf of the actual value. The only accident during the evening happened to Mr John Jackson, one of the fire inspectors, who fell over some timber, dislocating his left elbow. Dr Mclntyre was fortunately in attendance, and having reduced the dislocation ordered Mr Jackson’s removal home.

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Bibliographic details

DESTRUCTIVE FIRE AT TIMARU., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 351, 23 May 1881

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DESTRUCTIVE FIRE AT TIMARU. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 351, 23 May 1881