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THE QUEENSTOWN FIRE.

[Br Telegraph.]

(FROM OUR OWN REPORTER.)

.Philip Waldinann was brought up on a charge of arson yesterday at Queensfcown, bul was remanded till Friday next. The inquest on the recent fire was then proceeded with before C. C. Boyes, Esq., coroner, and a jury. Police Inspector Hickson conducted the case on behalf of the Crown, and Mr Denniston attended on behalf of the prisoner. The following evidence was taken: — John ;Edgar: I am agent for the Victoria Insurance Company. Waldinann-was insured in our office for £100 on a building in Ballarat street. The policy expires on 17th June next. I took a risk on Waldmann's cottage on the terrace for £300, and on the furniture for £100. Our other risks in connection with the fire are —Brettell, £400; Thomas Hicks, £150 on the buildingwhich Waldinann occupied as a store; and R. TBoyne, £1000, partly destroyed. I saw flames at Waldmann's on the afternoon of 23rd inst.,but know nothing as to their origin. I suggested to Sergeant Morton, to go to Waldmann's cottage on the terrace. I went in company with Inspector Hickson, Mr Turton, Serfeant Brown, and Mr Hotop, agent for the Fnion Insurance Company. •We found the doors and windows closed. I saw through a window the flare of a light. We effected an entrance by a back window, and saw in a room two patches of tar on the floor, a tin containing tar, and three or four dozen of boxes of matches, some of which were opened and the matches thrown about. Theve were four or five candles on the floor, a bundle of manuka scrub, and a bundle of American laths. Waldraaim told me the premises were his own when insuring. The scrub was dry. Two sheets of iron were leant against a wooden partition wall, placed ss as to screen the flare of the candle. All the inflammable material mentioned was under the sheets of iron? I saw no lighted candle in the room. I granted permission to Waldmann to remove his furniture from the cottage on the terrace to store in Ballarat street on the 16th inst. The policy on the cottages on,] the terrace and the furniture was transferred |

from Waldmann to* Mrs Waldmann on the 21st October last. Mr Hotop, agent for Union Insurance Company : Waldmann was insured by me as follows :—£loo on building in Ballarat street, £200 on stock, £50 on stable. The policy expires on Ist February next. Waldmann told me he had purchased the premises. J.Morgan, whose premises were destroyed by the fire, is insured in the Union for £400; and Mr M'Ewen's stock, premises, and furniture for £400. These were totally destroyed. I myself am insured in the Union for £100 on the building and £750 on the stock, and Mrs M'Bride has £100 on the furniture. I saw smoke coming out of Waldmann's premises about 2 or 3 o'clock on Monday afternoon, the 23rd inst. About 10 o'clock I was asked to go to Waldmann's cottage on the terrace as a witness and as an insurance agent. When we got inside the cottage we found a candle burning on the top of a quantity of full matchboxes. There was also a tin of tar, and tar spread over the floor, the whole surrounded by brushwood and laths. The burning candle was fastened or glued to another not burning^ The candles were held in position by an iron receptacle. I put out the candle at the request of Inspector. Hickson. There were about six dozen boxes of matches, some open and the matches scattered about. Four dozen were in packages. The burning candle was fixed against the windows. Sergeant Brown here arranged the matches and candles as found in the cottage, the prisoner watching the proceeding with undisguised interest. Thos! Hicks deposed: lam a member of the firm of Robertson and Co., Queenstown. Waldmann rented premises at £1 per week ifrom us. We had the building insured for !£lsoin the Victoria Company. On the 6th inst. Waldmann called on me, saying he wanted to give vis security for money owing. He proposed to give a bill of sale on the stock, taking £50 cash, as he had two bills falling due of £60 each. He said he had £50 to meet one bill. I declined. Waldmann came again on the 18th inst. asking was I going to do anything in the matter. I told him I would have nothing to do with it. The two bills came due on the 10th inst. I advised him to file. He said if he could meet the bills he could recover himself. . I asked him to give us a mortgage on the house on the terrace, but he walked away. I entered into an agreement with Waldmann, letting him the store in Ballarat street on terms, on 14th June, 1880. The agreement was cancelled at Waldmann's request on 23rd July, 1880. Mr Cowan, solicitor, Queenstown: My office is opposite Waldmann's. On Monday morning, about a quarter to. 8, I saw something peculiar about Waldmann's shop. The following notice was on the door: "This shop will be closed for four days, and will be opened on Friday next." I looked in at the window, and saw sheets of brown paper stuuk up as blinds. A lower comer was turned up. I could see into the shop. I noticed_ goods removed from the window, and in lieu of the goods . saw two lolly-tins, appearing to be empty. I thought something was wrong. I saw the reflection of a light: lam not positive whether it was the reflection of an artificial or of sunlight. Had I acted upon my first-im-pulse I believe I should have been the means of averting this frightful calamity. John Bain, labourer: I remember the fire on Monday, 23rd inst. On the afternoon of that day I saw a fire on the side of Waldmann's shop window. I burst open the door. I saw nothing in the shop to save. The shop appeared to be empty. -I am sure the fire brake out in the rear of the shop. Thomas M'Master : I was in company with Bain at the time of the fire in Ballarat street. Bain said, " There is a fire in Waldmann's." I went in through a side door. The fire appeared to be in the front part of the building. I saw a bag of salt and a box of soap in the store. There were some other bags also. Mr Huddleston, rabbit inspector, deposed : About 4 o'clock on the afternoon of the 23rd inst. I noticed a gleam of light through Waldmann's window, which was closed. I read the notice on the door in passing. I turned back and saw smoke bursting out under the cave of the building, 10 feet from the front. I burst in the door with two others, and saw the whole inside on fire. There appeared to be very little in the shop. Mrs M'Ewen, milliner: 1 lived next door to Waldmann's. I remember the Sunday previous to the fire. I sent my daughter to Waldmann's store about tea-time. She could not get what I sent for, Waldmann was not at home. Mr Thomas Dixon was in the store. I head some hammering on the Sunday in question —it sounded like hammering a box. This was nothing unusual v but about 12 o'clock that night I heard an unusual noise at the back of Waldmann's premises, like wheeling a barrow. I did not strike a light, and did not get up. Thomas Dixon: lam manager of the Mountaineer Steamship Company. I know Waldmann intimately. I boarded with him from August, 1880, to October, 1881. I remember the Sunday before the fire. After dinner I went, together with Waldmann, to his cottage on the terrace. I have been in the habit of going there every Sunday since the fruit season came in. I stayed a couple of hours in the garden. I did not go inside the cottage. I ad not been inside for four or six weeks. I noticed Mr and Mrs Woodrow passing. We were lying down at the-time. I went away shortly after. The cottage had not been occupied for four or six months. We, went to Waldmann's shop, and remained an hour or two. I saw Waldmann nail a case ; I don't lmovr ■what, was in it. About 10 o'clock that night I met Vraldmann, and went home with him. I remained until between 11.. and 12 o'clock at night, arid assisted Waldmann to put a'iase on a barrow. He took it down to the jetty. I said I would put it on board the steamer. The box weighed over 1 cwt. I remember Mrs M'Ewen's girl coming to Waldmann's shop, but am not sure whether it was Sunday or Saturday night. Waldmann asked me to mind his place during his absence. I wrote the notice found on Waldmann's door at his request. The box was forwarded per New Zealand Express Company. I cannot say why Waldmann did not take it in his own charge. When last in Waldmann's cottage on the terrace, I saw some laths and sheets of iron. I remember Waldmann taking tar to the terrace cottage for fruit trees. It might have been the tin produced, or,a kerosene tin cut down. I have occasionally lent Waldmann money— never more than £20 at a time,—and have always been repaid. When in Waldmann's store on the Sunday previous to the fire, I noticed the lolly-glasses taken out of the window, which, as usual on Sunday nights, were placed on the counter. 1 saw also four or five, or perhaps more, bags of sugar, and a number of boxes of tea. I was. not in the shop on .the Monday of the fire; I was not on shore at all that day. I have no goods belonging to Waldmann in my possession, and never had. Waldmann took out a return ticket. I know Waldman'n kept the keys of the cottage on the terrace. " Isabella Robinson: I was servant^ to Mrs Waldmann. I left the same day as wshe. left for Dunedin. I saw Mrs Waldmann pack up clothes on the Saturday before tKe. fire, I saw her pack up some antimacassars, toiled tablecovers, and three counterpanes. 'I coukTnotj find the forks and knives on Monday morning, I and asked Mrs Waldmann for them. She said she had put them away. Waldmann brought some old ones from the bakehouse, which we used. I was last in the cottage on the terrace on the 4th inst. Since then the curtain on the window in the room where the lighted candle was discovered had been changed for a dark green one. Mr Woodrow: On Sunday afternoon, before the fire, I was on the terrace between 4 and 5 o'clock. I saw Waldmann looking in at the window, very- low down. I saw him look in at two windows like that.

This evidence waa corroborated by Mrs Woodrow. -••

A. Bichai-dt,' hotelkeeper, Queenstown : On| Saturday, 21st inst., Waldmann asked me for the account due to him. I gave him a cheque! for £14. He asked me to take half a ton of sugar. He asked me ta his store, and again on Sunday before the fire. I did not buy anything from him.

W. Mason: I live on the terrace. I saw Waldmann on Saturday evening between halfpast 7 and 8 o'clock taking a basket to his cottage there. He had the basket on his arm. When coming bock he carried it in his hand. I could not say what he had in the basket.

Mr Davidson, shepherd: I live next to Waldmann's cottage on the terrace. I heavd a noise»on the Monday morning of the fire, about half-past 1. Mr dog was violently barking. I got up to quiet him. I saw nobody on the terrace."

The inquiry was at this stage adjourned till! Thursday next. Bail was fixed at the same: amount as by the JDunediu Magistrate.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ODT18820201.2.13

Bibliographic details

THE QUEENSTOWN FIRE., Otago Daily Times, Issue 6232, 1 February 1882

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2,011

THE QUEENSTOWN FIRE. Otago Daily Times, Issue 6232, 1 February 1882

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