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DISASTROUS FIRE AT ROTORUA.

GRAND HOTEL DESTROYED.

MANY NARROW ESCAPES.

VISITORS LOSE EVERYTHING.

[BT TEtEGP.ArB.~OWN CO-RESPONDENT.] Rotoet/a, Monday.

4 host disastrous fire occurred here to-day, resulting in the total destruction of the Grand Hotel. The fire broke out shortly after noon, and so quickly did the flames spread that in less than half-an-hour the whole building was ablaze. A fairly strong wind was.blowing at the time, and grave fears were entertained for the safety of the buildings on the opposite side of the street, which were in great dancer.' NO FIRE BRIGADE.

There is no fire brigade at Rotorua, but there were plenty of willing hands ready to render every possible assistance. There was no hope, however, of saving the hotel, and ike rescue of the inmates was the main. consideration. Some were in considerable danger, owing to th' alarming rapidity with which the flames spread. Fortunately everyone managed to get out safely from the burning building, and no loss of life ; has to be recorded. j THE FLAMES SPREAD. j The fire soon spread from the hotel to the outbuildings, a number of which shared ' the fate of the main building. The Borough Council's Rex machine- was quickly on the scene, but it was of little use m such a conflagration. About- one o'clock the water supply was ! directed on to the laundry, which is fitted J up with machinery, and the efforts to save i this building proved successful, though the j greater part of one side was very badly charred. Practically nothing in the hotel was saved. Heavy rain set in when the flames were at their fiercest. Had the fire occurred at night, loss of life roust have taken place, so rapidly did the j flames spread. Fortunately, as it was, no one was even hurt'. SENSATIONAL INCIDENTSSeveral sensational incidents and narrow escapes from death are reported. It is stated that one invalid was rescued from the burning building after the flames had broken through the top storey. Mrs. Lees, the wife of the manager, had a most sensational experience in saving her child. Her position was so perilous that she found it necessary to throw her baby from the balcony to the people below. It was 'a thrilling moment, but fortunately the child mas safely caught by eager, willing hands, and escaped without injury. General Buckle., a visitor to Rotorua, also had an exciting experience, being eventually rescued by a man named Lovegrove. While the flames were at their height, the excitement was naturally very great, the whole town watching the progress of the fire with the most intense interest; but this did not prevent willing hands from working heroically in rescuing the inmates, and fortunately in this respect their efforts were crowned with success. VERY LITTLE SAVED. So rapid was the spread of the flames, arad so fiercely did the fire burn, that very little cculd be saved from fke doomed building. Many of the visitors lost practically all their belongings. One person had the misfortune to lose over £200 worth of jewellery. Among the other heavy losers is Mr. McMath, who had a private collection of valuable Maori curios, all of which were destroyed. His loss is estimated at £500. Considerable damage was also done to the stock in the storeroom. ACROSS THE STREET. The residence of Mr. B. S. Corlett, across the street, was at one time in great danger, and had this house caught a whole block would in all probability have gone. As it was, Mr. Corlett'a furniture was much injured by removal and water, and the windows and doers of his residence knocked about.

The Chronicle office, which adjoins the Grand Hotel, was considered a certain victim of the flames, but the wind was blowing across Fenton-street, instead of towards the office. Nothing was removed from the Chronicle office, and no damage whatever was done. ORIGIN 01' THE FIRE. There is no definite information as to the origin of the fire. It is stated that it originated in a small recess under the staircase, where the porter kept bis brooms, brushes, etc .-,'. As usual, at a fire, much pilfering was done. Steps have been taken to guard the burning debris, and the chimneys have been hauled down. SEASON JUST COMMENCING. The loss of the hotel is quite a calamity, and at no time could the place have been less spared than the present, just as the season. ig commencing. Tenders were accepted only a. fortnight or so ago for considerable improvements to the destroyed building, and these were being carried out. Much sympathy is expressed for the owners, and also for the visitors, all of whom have lost everything. FIRE BRIGADE NEEDED. The want of a fire brigade was demonstrated to-day. There were plenty of willing hands, bu*- no organisation, and many of thij ajrthles were rescued from the names only to be smashed by careless handling. Bat fcveu if a brigade was in extMfolse, the want of a water sup?'<i' '•"• M very materially minimise their >'trv|ces. . Despite the fact that the work "'M ct>Dnfcijtion with the drainage scheme is 'P«tgj'tE.'M;i-;: favourably, we hear of no acl|,;o|i hdi:.■'.■ iiken to provide a water supply.

"■:■,' THE INSURANCES. The j:mii?aaees totalled up to £14,500, but a the hole) is completely destroyed this sum will not by any metis reimburse the Proprietors, to say nothing of the loss of business. 1-jje insurances are as follows : — New Zealand Insurance Company, £400; Yorkshire, £500; Royal, £3000; Norwich VJjion, £2000; Australian Alliance, £250; Alliance, £950; United. £500 ; Royal Exchange, £-100; North Queensland, £250; fhcenix, £500; Standard, £500; Liverpool s*« London and Globe, £1250; Imperial, £1000; Northern, £500; Guardian, £1000; South British, £500; Sun, £500; Manchester, £500: total, £14,500. J. he Alliance risk was educed bv reinsurawe to £200. THE BUILDING. 'Die Grand Hotel was built entirely of wood, and was owned by Messrs. L. D. Nathan and Co. and Hancock and Co., and was built in the early nineties" by Mr. R. Galium, Mr. ,1 Carrie being the architect. Ihere were nearly 100 rooms in the building, and the Grand was not only the largest hotel in New Zealand outside of the four eniel cities, but it also bad the distinction <»t housing most of the notable people who Tinted Rotorua, including the Prince and

Princess of Wales, and the Ministers of the Crov.a invariably stayed there. It was certainly one. of the most popular hotels in the colony. - ■; , When "the Grand was built it was considered to be an undertaking altogether too large for the requirements of the place-; but this view was soon proved to be entirely erroneous, as the hotel was an instant success, and spacious as were the lines upon which it was originally constructed, there was never room enough to cope with an unusual rush of business.

The hotel ffas thoroughly well provided with fire extinguishing appliances, and so careful were the management that when the Prince and -Princess of Wales were staying there the foreman of the Auckland Fire Brigade, Mr. Moore, was specially detailed for'dutv at the hotel during the Royal visit. The winter season is just ended, "and preparations were being made to cope with the 1904-05 season, which is expected to be unusually heavy, and alterations and enlargements were being made to the outbuildings, particularly the laundry. The Grand had all the features of a hotel of an European spa of the. first order, for not only was the tourist sound in wind and limb catered for, but provision was also made for invalids taking the baths at Rotorua, for it was situated within a stone's throw from the prinoipal baths, and right in the heart of the town. The licensee was Mr. A. J. McMath. A special train left Auckland for Rotorua yesterday afternoon, with Messrs. L. D. Nathan.* Ernest Moss Davis, and J. Currie, the firms' architect.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NZH19041025.2.36

Bibliographic details

DISASTROUS FIRE AT ROTORUA., New Zealand Herald, Volume XLI, Issue 12695, 25 October 1904

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1,313

DISASTROUS FIRE AT ROTORUA. New Zealand Herald, Volume XLI, Issue 12695, 25 October 1904

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