Alexandra Times at KellyGang 9/12/1876 (2)
Beyond Vining's hotel stood the Athenaeum Hall, a large brick building, which from the intense heat caught fire in several places, and at one time seemed in great danger, being so full of' smoke that it was impossible to enter. Everything was at last removed but the mere shell, and copious doses of water were well applied till the danger wits over, though the beams and rafters beneath the iron roof were charred and shrivelled by the heat. The wooden structure at the back used as dressing rooms was partly torn down, and a considerable expenditure will be required to put the hall in order again.
Very little could be saved from Vining's, as the fire spread so quickly, the billiard-table, stock,. and most of the furniture being lost. Of Vining's and Williams's premises nothing was left standing but the blackened chimneys, and the destruction was all accomplished perhaps within half an hour. The telegraph wire passing along in front of the footpath gave way from the heat, and fell. The Union Bank was kept covered with wet blankets while the fire was at its height, and but for the supply of water from there the destruction would have been much greater. Fortunately too there was little wind to fan the flames further.
From a Mr Oliver's' chemist's shop and store, next a to Cook's, the stock was recklessly removed, for which he will be a heavy loser. Mr Oliver was away at the time, as were Mr and Mrs Williams who lost everything but what they stood in. Great sympathy is expressed for the sufferers, more especially for Mr and Mrs Vining, who have a large family of young children, and are heavy losers. Miss Brodie, who-resided with them, unfortunately lost all she had, her things being forgotten in the scramble.
The first theory was that the fire was caused by a broom used to sweep up the embers of Mr Williams's kitchen fire being placed against the partition separating the kitchen from a private room behind the shop, as the fire undoubtedly commenced there, but on a close examination by Senior-constable M'Cormack on the morning after the fire, he was of opinion that it originated from a Dutch oven used in cooking the dinner having been placed against the partition in question; the half-quenched, embers attached to this, being fanned by the air, may have broken out some time alter being laid up, by which the sitting-room would be set on fire, and so on to the shop. This would account for so little fire being in the kitchen. The servant-girl only left the promises some few minutes before, but previous to leaving did not enter the room, where the fire may have been smouldering.
The conduct of a large number of men whose names we cannot give was beyond all praise; we may, however, single out the Rev C F L'Oste, who from first to last worked "like a brick" in the thick of it. Captain Raphael was, of course, active and energetic in directing operations, and the Fire Brigade behaved well. In fact, the whole able bodied population, with but few exceptions, showed a praiseworthy desire to make themselves useful.
Mr Williams's loss is about £2200, against which he is' insured for £650, divided, between the South British and the London and Lancashire offices. The building was insured in the Imperial office for £150.
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