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FIRES.

OUTBREAK IN WARNER'S HOTEL. CONSIDERABLE DAMAGE DONE. No fire is calculated •to cause greater publio excitement than that which occurs in an extensive hotel, f6r apart from the size of the building concerned, the number of rooms and the amount of personal, pro-, perty involved, there is always a danger that one or more of the numerous inmates may be unable to make their escape. Especially is this the case when the firo occurs at night. When it was rumoured on Saturday night that Warner's Hotel, was on fire, therefore, a tremendous crowd soon gathered in Cathedral Square, completely blocking all traffic between Hobbs's Buildings ■ and the Cathedral, and the night, tnougn cold, with a slight south-west breeze blowing, was fine, and there were many people in the streets. For some time it seemed probable that the whole of the hotel, with the • wooden portion of the " Lyttelton Times" Offices, would be completely destroyed. . The fine work of the Fire Brigade, however, prevented so extensive a calamity as that, and when the fire was •well under control, the crowd raised a hearty cheer. The outbreak occurred at twenty minutes to eight, in a linen closet, in the upper story of the old portion of the hotel. The fire spread rapidly, and nearly the whole of the old wooden portion of the premises waa destroyed. Fortunately, however, " the new portion, containing between sixty and seventy rooms, sustained little or no damage, and business willvbe carried on as usual pending the re-erection.in brick of the portion destroyed. The rooms occupied by most of the employees of the hotel were situated close to where the fire originated, and it spread so rapidly that not one of them was able to save any personal property, and only .one of them was secured by insurance. . It was some time before a passer-, by gave the alarm to the Fire Brigade from Heywoods Corner, and until the arrival of the Brigade the fire appliances kept at the "Lyttelton Times" Office, next to the hotel, were brought into play and did good service in keeping the flames under. , The chemical engines were soon at work, and Helped to check the fire until the two 1 steam fire engines got to work. As the building was an old wooden one the flames soon obtained a strong hold. In spite of four strong jets of water they were not entirely subdued until the greater portion of the upstairs of the front of the building, the servants' quarters, and one or , two rooms whioh had been built on the top storey of the old Gaiety Theatre, had' been -demolished. Although not much damage was done by the fire downstairs, the: floors of the burnt rooms soon fell in and rendered the apartments below, including the bar, useless. A number of willing hands were soon at work removing the furniture. The bulk of it was taken into the Cathedral grounds, but as some of those who were helping to remove articles from the upBtairs- rooms at the southern portion of the building threw many of them out of the windows, considerable damage was done. The want of an organised corps of fire police was felt greatly. The firemen had much difficulty in doing their work on account of the manner in which they were hampered by the large crowd which had gathered to see the conflagration. Fortunately a number of members of the Fifth Contingent were attracted to the Square by the flames, and Sergeant-Major Rhodes, of the Canterbury Yeomanry Cavalry, called upon them to assist. "Under his direction, they did good work in keeping the people back and in the salvage operations. When the fire was at its height the scene was a grand one, the surrounding buildings being illuminated by the flames. The firemen had a. very perilous task to perform, and several of them were injured in their en-, deavours to get the hose to the seat of the ' fire. Foreman Tattersall had a very severe fall while he was taking a line of hose on to the roof, and sustained a fracture of a rib, which will incapacitate him for some time. The fire was subdued by about a quarter to ten o'clock. Just as the steam engines had drawn their fires another alarm was given of a fire in Worcester Street West, and the Brigade went in that direction with all speed. At about twenty minutes past ten, however, the fire again broke out in the hotel. Word was sent to the Brigade, but as all the hose was in use at the fire which the Brigade was then attending, it was some time before it could be placed on the reel and prepared : for removal. It was found that the fire was burning fiercely close to the "Lyttelton Times" Office, and the appliances in that place were again called into requisition. Three lines of hose were taken on to the roof, and with these the second outbreak had been about subdued when the steam engines of the Brigade again got to work, and very little further damage was done. Several times the fire threatened to reach the stock department of the "Lyttelton Times " Office, and so great was the heat, at one time that several panes of glass in the window overlooking the hotel and in the skylight were broken, but beyond that no damage wn« done to either the premises or the stook of the " Lyttelton Times." A number of visitors were staying at the hotel, but none of them occupied any of the room* that were destroyed, and all their good* wcro romoved from the hotel. Had tho flro happened late at night when the inmates wcro in bed, several of them would have been in serious peril, as it would have been » very difficult matter to get out. , -v A great deal of the furniture from, tho hotel wafl damaged in removal, and the whole of the lower floor of the northern portion of the building was flooded with water. Most of the visitors obtained other accommodation for the night. ; The manager of Warner's Hotel, however, has made arrangements so that accommodation can be provided in the new portion of the building, while the old portion is being re-erected. . : Warner's Hotel and contents is insured for £11,000, distributed as follows : —Wooden portion, main building, £4000 : brick portion, £2000 ; sample ?ooms, £1000 ; furai-

tiire in wooden rooms, £1700 ; furniture in brick rooms, £1040 ; furniture in bar, pianos, stock-in-trade, etc., £1260. Total, £11,000. The insurance is divided among the following offices:— New Zealand, Victoria, South British, Norwich Union, Phcenix, North German, Liverpool, London and Globe, London and Lancashire. AT DR SYMES T S. The fire at Warner's Hotel had barely been extinguished when, at 9.45 p.m. a telephone message was received at the Brigade Station that a building at the hack of Dr Symes's house, in Worcester Street, whs on fire. The Extinguisher and Deluge engines were at once despatched. A line of hose was run out from the latter engine ?t. the river. A few minutes' play proved effective in overcoming the flames. The building was a wooden one, containing five rooms, and the fire -started in a: room occupied by the coachman. This room, together with the groom's .bedroom and a living room, were destroyed; nothing being saved. The origin of the fire is unknown. The building was insured for £50 in the Manchester Office. ■■.-■• About midnight on Saturday, the Misses Simpson, living in Oxford. Terrace, near the Foresters' Hotel, was awakened by a glare of fire on her bedroom window. She found a packing case on. the verandah in flames. The case was filled with paper and rubbish . and had been placed there by somebody and set fire to.'ibut whether as a joke or with incendiary design is, of course, not known. Mrs Simpson quickly put the fire out, and removed the box. The matter has been reported to the police.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/TS19000326.2.32

Bibliographic details

FIRES., Star, Issue 6753, 26 March 1900

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1,331

FIRES. Star, Issue 6753, 26 March 1900

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