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DESTRUCTIVE FIRE AT DUNEDIN., Evening Post, Volume XVIII, Issue 60, 8 September 1879
DESTRUCTIVE FIRE AT DUNEDIN.
while the whole of the inmates on the lower flat escaped with only slight burns, from the upper stories about seventeen succeeded in effecting an escape. Of these, ten let themselves down by means of clothes lines. Among this number were Anthony Callan, Charles Ure, and John Dean, the latter having been cook to the restaurant. Three escaped by a ladder, two were brought down the staircase, and two fell down from the exterior of the building. Of the latter, one, a man named Thomson, was killed by the fall. The two Misses Wilson and a servant girl named Margaret M'Carthy all of whom escaped, wen more or less burnt. One of the Misses Wilton was severely injured, and on enquiry at the hospital, it was stated that she is in a very critical condition. WHERE WAS THE FIRB-BSCAPB ? The delay in bringing the fire-escape to the scene is severely commented on. When the fire was discovered the police rushed to the Masonic. Hall, where it had been kept for a long time, only to find it bad been removed to the new brigade station at the back of the Town Hall, from which it was difficult to remove it on account of the narrowness of the exit. The building was one mass of flames before the escape arrived. During the height of the fire the most exciting scenes occurred. One man, who occupied the third storey, escaped through hts window on to the parapet, where he continued, hanging on fully ten minutes, whilst ladders were being joined to reach him. 11.20 a.m. The insurances so far as known are :— Union, £1150; Standard, £1000; National, £1450 • Norwich Union, £1300; Victoria, £200; Hanseatic, £400; New Zealand, £200. ANOTHER FIRE. M'Glashan's paper mills, at the Water c' L*ith, have been burnt down :— lnsurances • Victoria, £100; Union, £500; Australian Alliance, £600; National, £250; London Lancashire, £350.
DREADFUL LOSS OF LIFE. EIGHT PERSONS BURNED TO DEATH; OTHERS MISSING. EXCITING SCENES. (PBR PKBBS AGENCY.) Duicedin, This Day, 9 a.m. A fatal and most destructive fire has occurred here. Ross'* buildings are totally destroyed, together with a large amount of Talnable property. There is terrible loss of life, no fewer than eight persons being known to have been burned to death, while several others are still missing, and it is ieared that they, too, have perished in the flames. 9.10 a.m. One of the most terrible calamities which has ever occurred in Dunedin happened this morning in the Octagon. At about half-past two o'clock, Mr. Walters' cafe took fire. Next the cafe was the shop of Mrs. Wilson, the wife of the editor of the Witness. The block numbered some four shops and buildings, which were all thickly peopled, and as the whole of tbe lower part was in flames before being discovered, escape was impossible for the majority of tbe inmates. It i<< known that Mrs. Wilson s family, numbering dome ten persons", are all lost, with the exception of two, one of whom jumped out of the window, and it is feared is injured beyond recovery. From a statement made by one of the persons wbo escaped by lowering himself with a clothes line, it appears that a number of persons were lying in a passage through which he had to grope, and all were apparently suffocated. The few persons who did escape are badly cut and injured, and one man wbo leaped from the window on to the pavement was killed on the spot. The whole block of buildings is gutted, but as the fire is still raging and the excitement is intense, it is impossible to ascertain anything with accuracy as yet. FULLER PARTICULARS. 9.25 a.m. One of the- largest and most destructive fires that has occurred in Dunedin for years broke out at half-past 2 this morning. When the alarm tolled out the fire had a strong hold of a large block of buildings iv the Octagon, situated next to the Atheneeum, and known as Ross Buildings. The fire originated in a cafe chant ant. Several people in the building jumped from the windows, both at the front and back, and one woman, Margaret M'Cartby, was told by the people to jump from the third story. In her terror she obeyed these calls, and as she fell she struck a projection over tbe main entrance, and was carried away bruised and insensible. Her moaning, however, told that life was not quite extinct. FORTUNATE ESCAPES. Eventually a long ladder was obtained, and by this means a number of people were taken out from the side of the building next the Athenaeum. A large number of boarders wbo slept on the third floor were seen wandering about the building for some time, utterly bewildered, but they luckily broke into a room used for drying clothes, and making fast the clothes lines which they found there to a bedstead, a number of them escaped by this means Of course their hands and feet were cut considerably. The block was almost entirely destroyed, but fortunately the fire confined to one block. It was also very providential that there was scarcely any wind blowing-, or the damage most have been even more serious than it was. The fire-escape di<i not arrive till it was too late to be of any service. LIST OP THB INJTURBD. David Conway jumped from one of the stories of the building, and in addition to being burnt severely was injured from the fall. He was removed to the h ispltal. Maggie McCarthy, who jumped from the top story, was caught in a sheet. Her injuries are not likely to prove fatal. Another young woman, whose name is unknown, jumped from one of the back windows. She tell heavily, and was considerably inju-ed, as she struck against a projecting part of tho building white falling She was also taken to the hospital. Two of Mr. Robert Wilson's children are knovn to be severely injured. They were badly burnt, and in jumping down sustained further injury. Ons of them struck the parapet in falling, and then fell on the pavement. The extent of their hurts is at present unknown, but it is feared that in one rase the injury sustained will prove fatal. Altoge 1 her, six persons, including one mm, who died from injuries, have been taken to the Hospital. These Include Mary M'Carthy (the servant ot Mrs. Wilson, of the registry office), Conway Thomson (who got out f the back ot tbe building), and who is greatly injured about the ba<-k, and two of Mrs. Wilson's daughters. Both tbe latter are seriously injured, and th<re are members of tbe lamily not to be found. There are conflicting statements about the sa«ety of Mr. R Wilson, the editor of the Witness, and his wife. Some persons are said to have seen them, but the police have not been able to find them, although they have made enquiry in every direction. It is certain that soveral persons have perished in the flames. Tbe building is a perfect hive of bedrooms, especially on the top floor. There were, it is said, in all forty beds in the cafe, and it is conjectured that about 100 people must have been on the premises Captain Murphy, of the fire brigade, states that to the best of his belief eight persons are known to have been in the building who are not yet accounted for. Amongst these are Mr. and Mrs. Wilson. NARRATIVE OF A SUBYIVOR. A survivor who slept in a bedroom in the side of the building, near the Athenaeum, and who got downstairs at the cost of a scorched face and hands, says that when he left his bed, along with another who slept in tbe room, three men wbo had wandered from tbe upper rooms of the cafe were left in the passage. They were stupefied by the smoke, wbicb was excessive, and one of them attempted to hold him as he was leaving. He tried to direct them to the stairway, but they they did not appear to be able to find it. He himself had very little recollection as to how he got downstairs. INSURANCES. The buildings are insured in the National Offire for £2000, half of which is reinsured for £1000 in the standard. Waters, arestaurautkeeper, had his effects covered by a policy of £250, insured by tbe Hanseatic. LATEST DETAILS. 10.40 am. The excitement and confusion which prevailed during the progress of the fire hare now considerably abated. Steps have been taken to ascertain the exact loss of life and to make tbe ruined buildings as safe as possible. Two portions of the parapet were pulled down between six and seven o'clock. STATEMENT OF THB CAFE-KBBPBK. Mr. Waters, the proprietor of tbe Octagon Cafe, states that on the night previous to the fire thirty persons were sleeping in the building, the majority being on the top floor. Shortly before twelte he retired to bed. The whole of the inmates of the house had prior to that gone to then* apartments. Cries of "Fire" rising, he immediately secured egress by a passage leading from bis bedroom to tbe srehway. On looking up to the front of the buildiDg be saw flames issuing from tbe upstairs windows of the cafe In the right-of-way be saw the body of a mm lying nnder circumstance* which indicated that in jumping from a window on the top floor he had been killed. Mr Waters estimates his loss at £800. Be it unable to assign any reason for tbe outbreak of the fire. BBCOVBKY OP THB. 598215. The operations of the firemen in searching for tbe bodies are fcing patiently watched by a la r ge crowd of persons. The remains of Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, their eldest boy, and tbeir oth r three children were removed from their room, in which they were found huddled together near to where their bed stood. Near their remains was found another body, supposed to be that of Bowman, a colored man livinir on the premises HOW THB tURVIVOBS BSCAPBD. from a comparison of the various statements mad© by the survivor^ l% wppjd appear that
DESTRUCTIVE FIRE AT DUNEDIN., Evening Post, Volume XVIII, Issue 60, 8 September 1879
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