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Fire in High Street.

A fire occurred in High street this morning which haa made a clearance of some of the buildings that have for joars disfigured the triangular block between Cashel and Manchester streets. It began shortly before half-past twelve in the shop next Mr King'B furniture warehouse, which was occupied by the Armless Lady and the Learned Pig, with whom visitors to the Exhibition became familiar. They had only entered into possession on Saturday evening, and the unfortunate pig, who had been left on the premises, was roasted to death. Owing to the inflammable nature of the houses, which wero all of wo d, and very old at that, the flames spread rapidly, especially to tho outhouses at the back. The building in which the fire began waa levelled to the ground in a very few minutes, but the flames met with much resistance from the furniture warehouse whioh was plastered inside, and partially protected by two small brick walls— ono at the rear, and one very singularly placed in front. The alarm having been given in the meantime, the engines had arrived, along with a number of spectators, who set to work removing goods. Mr King's place was stripped, ani the contents piled on the other side of the street, where they must have received considerable damage from the water flowing over the roadway, and the hose which an incautious fireman favoured them with in the course of one of the flank movements that afterwards became necessary. Among the artioles in the interior of tbe building were three mysterious looking jars, which caused a good deal of perturbation among thoae engaged in the work of salvage. There was a general feeling that, from their peculiar look, they must contain something dangerous, probably chemicals calculated to blow up the place and all around. Several of the workers attempted to remove them, but found them too heavy, and one of the jars at last being overturned, revealed the fact that thoy hold nothing more harmful than quicksilver. Next to Mr King's is Mr Hulbort's hat shop. The building was in no immediate danger, but, of courso, some excited individuals must bo found to break it open and begin the work of ransacking it. Luckily, for Mr Hulbert, however, the process was stopped before tho plaoe was quite empty, but a considrable quantity of his goods found their way acroßß the street. Mr Crocker also removed a quantity of goods, and he, more fortunate than hiß neighbours, had them conveyed to a spot where they were free from the interference of the water. The hand engine was the firat to get water on, and the two steam engines were stationed «t the Cathedral square and White Hart tanks, whence streams of water were quickly thrown on to tbe flames. After levelling the first building, tne firo Boon made havoo of the next to the south, one portion of which was occupied by Mr Doherty, tobacconist, and the other by Madame Lotti Wilmot. The next place to this had recently been in Mr J. M. Crocker's hands, but it was at the time empty. Here tho firomen checked tho progress of tho fire, and helped by a briok wall guarding Mr Crocker's drapory establishment, they soon gained the victory. On the northern side they had a tougher job. The fire got round the back of Mr King's warehouse, and insinuated itself along the raft ors and under the roof. As faat a 9 the firemen removed the hoße to quench the debris in other places, tho flames burst out again, and it was not till some three hours after the outbreak that the fire was thoroughly extinguished. A clearance was made of all tho outhouses at the back, and the effect of tho fire has been to sweep away tho worßt of the ill-favoured "shanties" in the block. All of them belong to Mr 0. H. Brown, of Nelson, for whom Messrs Harman and Stevens aro agents, and he is Baid to be uninsured. Mr Doherty was also uninsured. Mr Crocker loses a certain amount from damage to goods by removal, but is otherwise not a severe sufferer. Mr Hulbert is insured in the South British for £750, and in the National for £600. Tho Armless Lady (Mrs Thompson) will be a heavy loser ; she is also the proprietor of Bismarck, tho pig. The learned animal waa not insured, aB the Companiea do not isaue policies on theso showa, but whon travelling by sea he waa usually insured for £300. During the Exhibition moro than this was offered for him by rival showmen. Several effortß were nude to get the unfortunate animal out, but unluckily those who mado the attompt, instead of hauling out the cage and all, triod to got the pig out by himself. This ho resented, biting ut a'l who came near him, and ia tho end he had to be abandoned. Mrs Thompson loses a large quantity of work, pictures, &c, to the value of several hundreds. These are e'lthe particulars that we could glean this morning, us the insurance agenta all seemed to have migrated to Akaroa, and it was difficult to piok up information on the spot. Strange to Bay, there were not a largo number of people present at the scene of tho fire. The origin of the firo ia unknown. The circumstances, as they bavc boen rocountod to us, aro ut least suspicious. A policeman visitod tho rear of tho premises at midnight, and saw that all wns then safe. Half an hour afterwards a flickering light, as of a candle, it ia said, waa seen in tho place, and immediately afterwards it was all in flames. Theso are all the particulars that can bo gathered at present, and probably they are not based on the strongest foundation. Wo understand that some of tho leases wero about to run out.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/TS18820904.2.15

Bibliographic details

Fire in High Street., Star, Issue 4481, 4 September 1882

Word Count
987

Fire in High Street. Star, Issue 4481, 4 September 1882

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