Alexandra Times at KellyGang 9/12/1876

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The township has again suffered from a destructive conflagration, and each block of our main street has now been visited in turn by the devouring element.

At about five o'clock on Sunday afternoon smoke was observed issuing from the back part of Mr Henry Williams's drapery shop, standing in Grant street, between Cook's and Vining's hotels, and in the midst if a number of small wooden buildings. The alarm being given, the front door was burst open, when the interior was seen to be all in flames. The shop was closely packed with a large stock of drapery, clothing, &c., of which not one article could be saved, and very little could be got out of the private apartments at the back of the promises.

The Fire Brigade and a large number of people were now on the spot, and general excitement prevailed while the flames appeared to be spreading on each side. In a very few minutes they reached Vining's hotel, standing next, but separated by a passage some 12t wide. This being a large rambling building, built of weather board and paling, burnt fiercely and gave out intense heat, and it wan felt that no human efforts could save it. The billiard room attached to Cook's hotel, also separated from Williams's by a narrow passage, now burst into flames. From the Union Bank opposite a plentiful supply of water was obtained, and passed across the street in buckets. Cook's hotel was quickly cleared of everything, and the front of the billiard room torn out in readiness to remove the table. Efforts were mainly directed here to prevent the hotel catching fire.

It was an anxious moment to many. Some men here worked like heroes amidst smoke and flame, throwing water on the roof and tearing down burning woodwork, and by superhuman efforts the fire was subdued, the billiard-room, though newly built of pine boards, miraculously escaping with charred and scorched walls. On account of the direction of the wind, Captain Raphael, of the Fire Brigade, deemed it advisable to raze Mr Long's boot shop, which was effected in about a quarter of an hour after the order was given, and the entire premises hauled into the middle of the road. Mr Crichton's stationery and general store adjoining was cleared of its contents, which together with the furniture were put into the middle of the street, and the house entirely covered with wet blankets. The fancy goods and stationery have suffered considerable damage by the rough handling they got.

The furniture and effects of the intervening householders were also got out, and it seemed at this time inevitable that more of them must be pulled down to prevent the conflagration coming down to the more valuable properties below. Luckily the wind changed, and as above stated, the fire stopped at Cook's hotel. It was, however, the unanimous opinion of all present that the action of the Fire Brigade was dictated by sound judgment, and in the best interests of the insurance companies, considering the heavy risks on Thompson and Co.'s and others immediately below, amounting to some thousands of pounds.


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