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A dangerous though 'never spectacular fire engaged the arduous service of the City Fire Brigade last night. It was just uft-?r 9 o'clock that the porter of the Occidental Hotel (Manse street) was startled by a great volume of smoke shot with red flame issuing from the rear of Messrs Bing, Harris, and Co.'« warehouse in High street. He raced to the constable in High street, and within a minute the shriek of the new fire motor communicated the intelligence of fire to the public swarming in the streets. So quickly did Superintendent Napier and his permanent men engage that they were already at close grips with the outbreak when th-p fireballs .summoning th? auxiliaries sent out the appeal tint in a few minutes drew a dense crowd of spectators into High .street. As a spectacle the fire ■had none of the features of less damaging .blaze*, and, indeed, appeared trifling and insignificant to account for the damage done, which at the lowest 'is estimated as little under £IO,OOO, and at the highest as between ££oXCoand £30.000. The fact is t,he block in which the outbreak toeurred is one of the most dangerous in the City, and under the windy weather conditions * that obtained until a few days ago might have proved the nucleus of a blaze, that would nave swept the block. There was only one course open to the superintendent. Having- located th.- (<ne of the fu-e in the small but heavily-stocked tobaiva department and the hosiery department above (to which it had ascended), he proceeded to inundate this quarter: and to such purpose that within 15 minutes the danger was at an end. But unfortunately, if inevitably, the volume of water flooded the ribbon and lace departments below, and also did great damage in the fancy, .Manchester,'corset, and dress departments. The niigin of the the is ,v misery. h\ the course o f a chat this motiiiti'/, the manager (Mr Bernstein) stated that the warehouse had be-'ii closed since December 24, ><> that none of the common theories applies. It is practically ceitain that t h-> centre of the- outbreak was the tehacco department, which is nutted, and the theory is advanced that over-heat caused combustion of the weed, and that tin: (ire had been emoulderini: for hours, perhaps days. INSURANCES. The insurances on the large stock total £40.0C0, and th; manager make.-, a rou-.'h estimate of the damage ;,« between £20,000 nn<l £30,003. The jf olio wii 115 insmance companies are umeerued:—ltoval £5,000. South British £4,000. Royal" Exchange £4.000, Norwich Union £3,500. Alliance £3,500. New Zealand £3,000, Liverpool and b-mdou and Clobe £3.000, Sun £3,000. Guardian £2,500. Commercial Union £2,000. -Atlas, £2.000, State. £1,500. London and Lancashire £1.500, United £I,OOO, Australian Alliance £SOO. The building was insured for £16,400, distributed as follows:—Stat* £8,500, Northern £2,000, National £2,000, Alliance £1.900, Royal £1,030, and Queensland £I,OOO. NO AUTOMATIC PROTECTION. SUPERINTENDENT INTERVIEWED. FRIt I I>L I Ml BBORN riUHT. It w just t nit i and go is t > whether \ c hj i til 1 ii i\e hi I a bi_ bit t i do. lmite los dttltutd Mipt lntnid nt Napier, wh n iitcrwuted tl is jTioimn£ for the iiant 1 id caught the nof tunbas and it> L« ft ui„ a li m lold "tti'hm a few mit utet, it mijht 1 i t g t out ~>f hand, and t!i* piu a \\ >uld hi\c gin carrying * it d 1 Mich liiflammibl stock A poite>- in tha Oct dental Hotel hist note dHi nib l J ui lie nn iuo=> to a po'icemin "ho lad jus c mt on duty at Pttc <• iet \ licit th daim was giu i Ihtic was uic la- pivtty big \olume f ri n timing ti i )u„h ti uof O<, n h t b" pistion of the 1 v v i l'lt i i u h t ♦ 1 \\d.\ it a i very otru <. t _c it ti **■ htait oi thx. fire. W rad > tt l t ii c Hint through afj t nV u iii<l t,ct i touile ot leads r n —' j touji tn ►* i d ui eit the back. \\~ hie !iB.-d t_» ha\e used less

»tt" i ainoitt knoui not to mako more ut o* than it, pr •* ib'e but in this case tit i in ej' hj e lequis'd ttei It was f-mt' mat tot p uung n sufficient i r p t n the rhm s fiom spreadh <h i" wo H tto th heaifc tt it there \a tl in„ ill Lu «is I hue stated pi*ei u- it \as touch ird go On the top J ft iis al o lo* >i r>ackin rt straw \ hth had ttu s ht ah„ht and tlu« with tf \ <vxl him burning w >ul 1 account for tho blight flan which could be c n f r i luuutt (i two fiom below. It wie a case of dannge b file oi d mage by \ tti ti d i he fn ha 1 once l t iway I ou'd not In\t stopped tt I think that l is i to_nioed m ii surance tn les a on i f trie r>i s* 1 locks in tht Cit\

It is fetrp tin ti me tint i huge w vchou e hk thic with in enotmous en i ti* if ei iK stock should t t lf\e onit/ ai toma tc alaim f-*r they Ut list illt J at t onipaidtueh cheap i t rinit i no d tilt it all that i £lO *> i llli o the dimige if then hj d been uitm itit ptotection The warehon e Ins been clo ed foi mething like eight d-ne ltd it is po«<=ible that the he it his liter gitduilh ?t f t ng mow and ti ta unhl *-h good fanih\ buiot into I 1 line Pi 1 ibh hn he it tn acting on n lutonuti w< aid ln\< gncn ne an ii m a t of drvs ag > My own (pinion i that th outbreil was < aused l\ tin o\ emitting ot th* tobacco but I tm onen to collection it anvone can show me atnthmg rU - " that ha\e caused it although thci« does not appear to Tiave b"-"i ii\ thing tls« lh-* p opnetors know hj t wis it the building 1 ettei than I, hut thtte i tothi it, n w in the opinion I have jhui f< i a ic nas occun d from tie s uno cittse beto e

I will lit <i\ imun Oi ippomted if the d-*mi' r e turns oi t to bp w excessive i Ins len st ited Ot tour e then was a, Ijt tt ieri a hiblp stock but £30,000 wens, o be t \ rv geneioue estimate and I an hopn , that he dnnngt- ie nearer £lO 000 than £3O COO Of come there i i sufht ent doi-c to Ulow the water to {eirrtate th whole bidding which from a fiienvine point ot view is very disap- ] c mtmg Ut use dmng 1\ watet is more tiious than 1 image bv fire ' Summing up it could be «nd that within a quarter of an hour the place was perfectly safe, although we had men there until 3" o'clock this morning; but that was only as a precaution. For a few minutes "it was an anxious fight—touch-and-co with a tremendously big fire."

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TOUCH AND GO., Issue 15690, 2 January 1915

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TOUCH AND GO. Issue 15690, 2 January 1915

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