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The inquest and eoronial inquiry into the Silver Grid fire was held at the courthouse yesterday before Mr T. A. B. Bailey, Coroner. Senior-Sergeant "Wohlmann conducted the case for the police, Mr George Harper represented the Christchurch Fire Board, and Mr H. H. Loughnan appeared for the Christchurch City Council. Superintendent Warner was in attendance. INSPECTING THE ESCAPES. Continuing his evidence, John .Percival Smith said that £l7 in cash belonging to him was recovered from the debris by the police. He could not suggest any cause for the origin of the fire. The Senior-Sergeant: Has your building ever been inspected with regard to the fire escapes? The witness: Yes, several times by the municipal authorities. They had never made any recommendations' regarding the escapes. During last race week he had so many boarders that a number had to be accommodated in bunks in the passage-way. To the Magistrate: At the end of ■ the passage-way there was a notice 'pointing out the existence of a fire escape.

BOARDERS IN THE HOUSE. Sylvia Joyce said that for some time prior to the fire she was a waitress at the Silver Grid. She was a sister-in-law of the proprietor. The deceased Hatch suffered from a goitre, and used to spend most of the day in his room. She did not know whether he had ever slept on the floor. Boarders may have used the southern fire escape from time to time to leave or enter the building. She remembered seeing a coloured man, Hansen or Johnston, on the Sunday night in the house. Mrs Stack and witness occupied the same room, which was next the proprietor's. A window from it opened oh to the balcony. All the fires, including the one in the kitchen range, were out when she retired at 11 p.m. She was awakened by the crash of glass. Smith, the proprietor, called out from the balcony. The passage way was then full of smoke, and Smith assisted her to open the window. Mrs Stack then came on to the balcony, clothed in a singlet. A moment later she missed Mrs Stack, and, although she called received no answer. Witness thought Mrs Stack went back to get some clothing. Mrs Stack was subject to fainting fits. Witness could not account for the cause of the fire. Frederick Richard Woodley Perrin, a fisherman, said he had been staying at the Silver Grid and occupied room 22 at the time of the fire. He went to bed about 9 o'clock the evening previous. The smashing of glass woke him, and he heard the call "Fire!" He could not get down the stairs owing to flame and smoke. He could not get to the front of the building from this cause. The flames then were licking through the passage floor. He appeared to be one of the last to escape by the back fire escape. Someone was calling out "This way!" THE VERDICT. The Coroner returned the following verdict: That Elsie Stack, Frederick Wm. Hatch and Thomas David Smith died on November 19; Annie Smith and Thomas Edwin Gledhill on November 20, and Henry Herbert Beere on November 21. The cause

of the death in the case of Hatch ' was suffocation, and of the other persons, shock from burns re- ' ceived. There was no evidence to show how the lire in the Silver Grid originated. The evidence showed j that the means of escape in case of i fire were not sufficient in the part of the building lying to the front of J the staircase. He added the fol-1 lowing riders: (1) That it was not | desirable that verandahs roofed | with glass should be permitted on any buildings used as boardinghouses or for public purposes.! (2) That it was desirable that in all fire districts the same power of inspection of means of escape in case of lire be given to the Superintendent of the Fire Brigade in respect of boarding-houses and similar public buildings, as is now given to him by the Fire Brigades 1 Act in respect of places of public j amusement.

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Bibliographic details

SILVER GRID FIRE., Sun, Volume IV, Issue 1185, 28 November 1917

Word Count

SILVER GRID FIRE. Sun, Volume IV, Issue 1185, 28 November 1917

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