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A Mysterious Fire. v P About five o’clock on Saturday, Mrs £ Burfoot, the care-taker of the Public Library, was alarmed (according tb her ® own : statement) by a strong smell of blaming, and hastened from her own ] apaijtments at the rear of the building t to ascertain, if possible, the cause of it. i The: reading room was all right, but on ope ling the door of the front room or hall, used occasionally for public meet- ( ing<, rehearsals, etc., etc., Mrs Burfoot ( was terrified to find the place in flames, i Shi rushed away to give the alarm, and ; then ran back to get out her effects, or sone of them at least. But the building was so old, and the wood so dry thr t, fanned by the nor’-wester that was blcwingj the fire spread with umsual rapidity, and the care-taker hai barely time to escape before he: f own quarters were destroyed. In something under half-an-hour the entire building was consumed, and its place occupied by a heap of smouldering ruins. The fire brigade was quickly on the spot, and had to work under unusial disadvantages, for the high wind blew the clouds of smoke directly into th; men’s faces with blinding effect. Tiie flames had gained too firm a hold of the old building to render any chance of saving it possible, even befo re the brigade arrived. At one time Messrs Mitchell and Turner’s store, adjoining the Library, was in some danger. It caught under the roof, and a number of persons, fancying that the building must go, rushed in and removed nearly the whole of the stock, rich they placed on the footpath in front of the house. Fortunately the flames under the roof of the store wbre quickly extinguished, but the : gpods sustained considerable damage, : wie believe, by their hasty removal, i Poor Mrs Burfoot is to be sincerely : pitied. Not only has she lost everyi thing she possessed, but is also de- : p rived, by the destruction of the building, of her source of income as its caretaker. Some sympathisers were collecting money for her in the streets on Saturday night,and succeeded in getting aj few pounds together. It is to be hoped 1 that the public will supplement this sum : by further subscriptions, for the case is > s really deserving one. Mrs Burfoot is a , v'idow,and the mother of a young family. ’ 'i'he origin of the fire is at present enveloped in mystery. Positively no- ’ tiing is known as to how it com- * nenced. We understand that about t tiree weeks ago Messrs Mitchell and , '"urner ceused the reserve on which

the Library stood to be partially cleared c?f the high tussocks with which it was covered. Had it not been for this providential clearance the fire would in all probability have destroyed Kaiapoi House also. The Library comprised from 700 to 800 volumes, including a flew works of reference and a good I'nany novels and bound volumes of ijnagazines. The loss on the whole is Estimated at between L9OO and Li, ooo. Possibly an inquest will be ■held, but this is as yet not decided upon. The insurances on the Library were as follows :—Building, L4OO ; books, L6O ; piano, L4O. Total, £.500 in the South British office. The 'msuianccs on Mcasra Mitchell and Turner’s were as follows : —Li,3oo on jitock and Ll5O on building in the Onion office ; Ltso on building and rLioo on furniture and piano (LSO on latter) in Transatlantic office.

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Bibliographic details

BURNING OF THE PUBLIC LIBRARY., Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 547, 30 January 1882

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BURNING OF THE PUBLIC LIBRARY. Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 547, 30 January 1882