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CHRISTCHURCH, April 30. About 6 o'clock last evening a fire Was discovered in the wooll department at the New Zealand Refrigerating Company's ■Islington freezing works. With the exception of a few men engaged on night-shift most of the workers are away, but a well-equipped fire brigade, comprised mostly of the permanent stall,, is established at the works, and shortly after the alarm this brigade was at work with several leads. The fire had such a strong hold, however, that it was feared that the works brigade would not be able to cope with it. There was an additional danger in that a large quantity of stock timber was stored near the wool department, and if this had caught fire the situation would have been 'grave for the works. An urgent call was sent to the manager of the works, Mr W. Murray, who immediately communicated with the chairman of the Christchurch Fire Board. Although Islington was out of bounds, the latter, realising that if the lire was unchecked, it would also seriously affect many fanners, immediately authorised relief to be sent from the Christchurch Fire Brigade. A squad of men from the 'Christchurch brigade went out with a motor pump, and joined the hard-working local brigade, who lia.d been toiling^ with fairly satisfactory results, for about half-an-hour, bnt it was not for over an hour after tliat the two defensive forces obtained the mastery oyer the flames. A large portion of the fellmongery was gutted, but fortunately this department is detached from tho rest of the works. It was fortunate, however, that there was not a south wind blowing, for with this added to the strong hold which the fire soon gained, the main works would have been in grave danger, and tho felling building entirely demolished.

As al the electric lighting on the effected block was cut off last night, it was impossible to a.s<:ertain the full extent of the damage. The fire was discovered in the wool-drying room, and this room, as well as the woolstore, seemed to -suffer the severest damage. Three wool-drying machines were destroyed. There were from 150 to 200 bales of wool stored in the wool room, and tho damage inflicted here by fire or water was severe. Fortunately the pelt-curing department, with alll the machinery there, was left unharmed, and operations in this department should not be dislocated for. very long as a result of the fire. This is fortunate, ' as the pelts from all of the Refrigerating Company's South Island works, are treated and cured at Islington. The pullers. wiJl be also -able. to. continue, and.the management hope to make arrangements at some of the other works for drying and .' baling,thus preventing any cessation of operations at the freezing works,, which at this season ■' would be a serious matter for many farmers.

It was estimated that the damage to building, wool, and plant would run from £12,000 to £20,000. _ . The insurances on the whole works which were seriously damaged, it is understood, amount to £250,000. Practically every insurance company in New Zealand is involved.

This morning representatives of companies examined the damage and are assessing the amount to be paid out.

Tho general manager states the company will be able to continue operations at the fellmongery department. It is not regarded as necessary to seek assistance from other companies to carry on.

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Bibliographic details

FIRE., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9598, 30 April 1919

Word Count

FIRE. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9598, 30 April 1919

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