FORTY TENEMENTS DESTROYED.
THE evening of December 1 will be long re- membered in the annals of Queensland, as the date on which occurred one of the most disastrous conflagrations that ever brought ruin and deso- lation on a town. Indeed, it would be almost impossible to convey with the pen anything like an adequate idea of the exciting and appalling
scene, which certainly beggared description. At all events, the whole of the business premises and private residences which occupied what may fairly be considered the most valuable site in Brisbane, were, in a couple of hours, reduced to a heap of ruins, in spite of all that could be done by hundreds of willing and courageous men to stay the fearful progress of the devastating element. Un- fortunately, although possessing the above qualifications, there was a third and most essen- tial one wanting-that of organization, the result of previous training. However, the old saying concerning spilt milk is the best consolation that can be offered to the unfortunate sufferers ; many of whom, we are sorry to be compelled to record, are completely ruined. Others, who were more fortunate in having their property wholly or partially insured, have sustained a pecuniary shock which they cannot, under the most favorable circumstances, recover for some time to come. Altogether the event of last evening is of such a deplorable nature as to cast a gloom over the whole community. We should imagine that a lesson was imparted last night, the refusal to take advantage of which will be criminal in the highest degree. It is to be hoped that our civic functionaries will for once see the necessity of merging their petty differences info a determination to take such immediate steps, no matter at what cost, as will for the future prevent the recurrence of a calamity which, although greatly to be deplored, is little less than might have been anticipated from the shameful apathy and neglect which has been manifested by persons in authority on the subject of the prevention of fire. The follow- ing is necessarily a brief and imperfect outline of the events of the night :
About twenty minutes to eight a blaze was observed in the cellar underneath Stewart and Hemmant's store. The name of the individual
who was first to perceive it we were unable to ascertain, but the news was quickly conveyed to the police station, and the fire bell pealed forth
loud notes of alarm. The whole of the available
force at the station was quickly on the spot, and when the doors of the doomed building were broken in it was found that the whole interior was one vast sheet of flame, and that any at- tempt to save more than the merest trifle out of
the valuable property which was being destroyed, would be labor in vain. Accordingly, the
efforts of the volunteers-among whom the members of the Fire Brigade No. 1, and their Superintendent, Mr. K. Macdonnell, were espe- cially prominent-were directed to rescuing what properly could be saved in Gaujard's, and the shops further up the street, which it was evident at that early stage of the conflagration were in imminent danger. A great deal of the valuable stock of tobacco and cigars having been carried safely across the street, the building was abandoned to its fate, and a number of men,
headed by Mr. Cutbush, got up on the roof of the two small shops occupied and kept as an
oyster saloon by Mr. Williams, with the inten- tion of pulling them down: and could they have succeeded in doing so in a very short space of time it is probable that the further progress of the flames might have been avoided. However, in spite of their tremendous exertions, and no one can dispute the fact of their having worked as hard, and as well as men could work, the tinder-like, nature of the materials which com-
posed the buildings which were on fire induced it to spread much too rapidly for them, and, although two of them stayed on the burning building until there was actually not sufficient unburnt timber to support them, and they fell through into the flames beneath, from which perilous position they were quickly rescued, not
before one of them-Mr. Cutbush himself--had been severely injured by the fall. About three quarters of an hour had elapsed since the com- mencement of the fire, and already had seven
shops been destroyed. As might be expected, the excitement became intense, crouds of people, men, women, and children were arriving rapidly from each quarter of the town, and the wild shouts of the men, the frightened aspect of the women, and the cries of children, together with the rune-strewn streets, and the fearful havoc-making flames created a tout ensemble which it is indeed diffi-
cult at all faithfully to portray. About this time the detachment of the 12th Regiment, headed by Lieutenant Mair, arrived upon the ground, and rendered material assistance in keeping a clear space for the men who were working with an energy and fearlessness that de- serves the utmost praise. We must also state that the utmost decorum prevailed among the vast concourse of people who were assembled together, which could not have numbered less than six thousand. The flames continued to spread onward, apparently gaining strength in contempt of the puny resistance offered to their might, until at half-past eight o'clock advantage was taken of a temporary lull caused by the non-inflammable character of tho roofing of
some of the shops, to make one more vigorous effort to save the more valuable properties , further up the street by pulling down the pre-
mises occupied by Mr. Lenneberg, and known as the Cafe de Paris. It was too late, however, as before the men could more than partially de- molish the structure the fire was upon them, and the bravest among them were compelled, by the extreme heat, to make a precipitate retreat ; and they had scarcely got away from the place before the flames were seen to communicate with Mr. Hockings' shop and from thence to Messrs. Edmondstone's and Kosvitz's premises. In the meantime, the fire was making fearful headway in Albert-street, and among the large number of little wooden places at the back of the premises in Queen-street, which were clustered together as closely as they could be packed and there is no doubt that the wonder- fully rapid progress of the fire up the street was due, in a great measure, to their existence. By nine o'clock the three brick houses, which were
the property of Mr.Edmondstone were completely
gutted, and any hopes which might have at first been entertained of saving Mason's Vic- toria Hotel, were speedily abandoned, and in a shorter space of time than it takes to nar rate the fact that building became an easy prey to the destroying element. The out-houses, stabling, and billiard-room were quickly one sheet of flames, and the interest of the specta tors became centered in the endeavors which were being made to preserve the new Music Hall, recently built at a cost of £3000, in Elizabeth-street, and situated in fearful proximity to the flames. The men engaged in the work consisted, principally, of the employe's at the Town Hall; and from the fact that they were superintended by men whom they have for some time past been accustomed to obey, were in a higher state of discipline and under more con- trol than those whose indiscriminate efforts had been employed upon other buildings. Messrs. Coote, Billings, and Edwards, well and bravely backed up by the men who were working under their directions, struggled successfully to prevent the building catching, although some of the men who were at work were burnt and singed in a most painful manner.
One of them had all his hair burned off his face and head, and others among them had , hair breadth escapes. However they managed
to achieve the object for which they struggled so manfully, and the building remains, compara- tively uninjured, a monument of the skill and daring which ensured its safety. All fear having been dispelled in that quarter, Queen-street again became the centre of attraction, and it was found that the Union Bank was speedily being reduced to a heap of ruins, and that Mc'Adam's Sovereign Hotel was also fated to become a thing of the past. By ten o'clock that very undesirable end was accomplished, stables, billiard-room, outhouses, fencing, in fact everything had succumbed, and it was apparent that only when all that stood between the flames and George-street was destroyed would there be the remotest chance of per- manently checking the fire. At one time fears were entertained that the opposite side of Queen-street would, also suffer considerably; but thanks to the precautions that were
taken in time the result showed those fears to be groundless. The whole of the boarding in front of the Town Hall, together with other inflammable material about the place were early removed from harm's way ; and that, together with the foresight displayed by adjacent shop keepers in bringing into requisition a plentiful supply of wet blankets, effectually prevented the fire from coming over the way. After M'Adam's premises were burnt, any further effort to stay the flames until they had ex- hausted themselves at the corner of the street was naturally regarded as useless, and a number of willing persons were pressed into the service for the purpose of saving as much as possible of the goods and furniture contained in Palmer's drapery mart, Lade's saddlery establishment, and Messrs. Dickson and Duncan's auction mart. Fortunately time was allowed for this, and as a consequence a quantity of valuable properly was rescued, and by half-past eleven o'clock the last building which was to be destroyed in that direction-the wooden struc- ture used as a temporary place of busi- ness by the Bank of New South Wales, was in a fair way of being razed to the ground. In Elizabeth-street much less damage was done than might, have been anticipated, which may be attributed in no slight degree to the fact that the houses in that street are few and far between, although the direction of the wind, which was north-easterly was rather unfavorable. Of course, all the wooden buildings lying a little back from the street, and connected in any way with the burn- ing houses in Queen-street, were destroyed. To check the progress of the flames in George street, the little wooden humpy belonging to Mr. Pillow, and erected on the debateable al- lotment some time since by that person, was judiciously pulled down, and carried away before the flames could approach it, and thereby the stone building, used as the Registrar-General's office, was saved. Had the precaution referred to not been taken, there is little doubt but that, it would have shared the fate of its neighbors in Queen-street. The new brick building being erected by Mr. Durcitz, for the Bank of New South Wales, at the comer of George and Queen streets, was also saved, the contrac- tor having taken care to remove all the wood- work from the building. Perhaps the most dis- tressing feature of all was the burning of a number of small wooden houses, inhabited by poor people, situated in a sort of lane leading into Albert-street, behind the building where the fire originated. With very few exceptions
the whole of the unfortunate inhabitants of
those dwelling-houses have lost the whole of their furniture, and have been turned houseless upon the streets to seek a refuge for their families where best they might. Up to the hour of our going to press, the fire was still raging, and will doubtless continue to burn throughout the day. The appearance of Queen street at a very early hour this morning was re- markable. Indeed, judging from the number of red coats who were parading in front of the smoldering ruins with fixed bayonets, one
could almost imagine that that portion of the
town had been in a state of siege, and that martial law prevailed. A striking contrast was afforded by the sleepless watchers, who, with sad countenances, were guarding on the other
side of the street all that remained of their long
cherished household goods.
The following is, as far as we were enabled to ascertain in the hurry and excitement which
prevailed, a list of the houses which were des- troyed, and the loss sustained in each :
Stewart & Hemmant's drapery warehouse; large and valuable stock, said to be worth £12,000, nearly the whole of which is des-
troyed. Insured for £10,000.
Ganjard's tobacco depot and restaurant. Some stock and furniture saved. Insured in the Queensland office.
Thompson & Sharp, drapery establishment.
Some stock saved. Uninsured.
Dallas, saddlery warehouse. Some stock and tools saved. Uninsured.
Mills Thompson, drapery establishment. Great deal of stock saved. Uninsured.
Williams, oyster saloon. Recently decorated by the proprietor. Very little saved. Unin-
Murphy, grocery store. Very little stock
M'Leod, confectioner. Nothing saved.
Collins, butcher. Little furniture and horses saved. Insured in the Colonial office.
Lenneberg, Cafe de Paris. Some stock and
furniture saved. Insured in the Pacific Office for £300, about one-third of the loss.
Hackings, fruiterer and seedsman. Some stock, furniture, and all valuable papers saved. Insured to nearly whole amount of loss.
Edmondstone, butcher. Furniture and horses saved. Insured to the amount of £3000,
for block of three houses, little more than half
Korwitz, watch-maker and jeweller. A great deal of stock saved. Partially insured.
Mason's Victoria Hotel. Stock and furni- ture completely destroyed. Billiard table, horses, and vehicles saved. We were unable to ascertain to what extent Mr. Mason was insured.
The Union Bank of Australia. Papers, bul- lion, and deal of furniture saved. Fittings and
furniture insured for £1250.
M'Adam, Sovereign Hotel. Nearly every- thing in the house destroyed, horses, billiard table, and vehicles saved. Partially insured.
Ben Palmer and Co., drapery warehouse. Principal portion of stock and furniture saved.
Lade, saddler. Stock and furniture saved.
Dickson and Duncan, auctioneers. Principal portion of furniture and stock saved.
Bank of New South Wales. Paper, furniture, and bullion saved. Building insured by Mr. Fairfax, for £300, £200 in the Imperial, and £100 in the Queensland Office.
Altogether, fifty houses and places of busi- ness in Queen-street have been destroyed, com- prising two banks, three hotels, and four drapery establishments. The number of small
houses we are unable to determine, but the whole of the shops in Albert-street from Stewart and Hemmant's down to Ballantyne and M'Nab's coach factory, which latter place escaped almost by a miracle, were destroyed. The insurance com- panies are great losers-the Pacific, the Queens land, and the Sydney Insurance Offices, each lose about an equal amount-something under £1000. The total loss of property has been roughly estimated at £60,000.
We cannot close our account of the disaster
without referring briefly to the good spirit which appeared to prevail among all classes, and the readiness with which assistance and advice were offered when required. His Excel- lency the Governor, accompanied by Captain Carnegie, R.N., visited the scene of con- flagration ; and among other gentlemen who were especially prominent by their exertions to rescue property were the Police Magistrate, and nearly the whole of the un- paid justices resident in Brisbane-Messrs. J. Petrie, W. Pettigrew, T. B. Stephens, G. Ed mondstone, H. Cribb, Kennedy, Drury, Abbott, and several others. Bishops Tufnell and Quinn, accompanied by a large number of clergymen, were also on the ground. The police rendered good service; and the soldiers, carefully watched the property committed to their care.
Considering the extent of the fire, the ca- sualties were very few, and none of them were of a serious nature. Four men and a boy were
taken to the Hospital. Mr. Cutbush, one of
the sufferers, sustained a severe wound in the throat, and was insensible for half an hour. On his coming to, the wound was dressed, and a speedy recovery is anticipated. The other cases were, as far as could be ascertained, simply bruises. Many narrow escapes were witnessed, but fortunately no life was lost.
AFTER THE FIRE.
Yesterday morning, at dawn of day, the scene of the late fire presented a desolate ap- pearance. The site on the previous day occu- pied by a long line of shops, which, if not par- ticularly handsome or imposing, still were the
centre of the retail traffic of Brisbane, was nought but a smoking heap of ruins. Occa- sionally, when a burnt through beam gave way, a dull hollow sound of falling bricks might be heard, raising a cloud of dust, and inducing wonder on the part of the listener as to whose premises had received the coup de grace. As the morning advanced, those sounds became more frequent, and excited less interest, atten- tion being directed to the large mass of debris piled up on the opposite site of the street, the majority of the owners of which had left the poor remnants to the care of a few soldiers and policemen, and had gone to snatch an interval of repose, during which they might for a short time forget their losses. Judging from the appearance and demeanor,of the guardians of this heterogeneous mass of goods, the responsi- bility conferred upon them had induced thirst, in their natural desire to quench which as speedily as possible the absence of water had overcome their repugnance to fermented and spirituous liquors,- and the consequence was that neither they or their firearms were for any length of time in it position that would ex
cite much admiration in the mind of a mar-
tinet. A solitary volunteer kept watch and ward opposite Messrs. Morey and Forbes' drapery establishment, where he had been stationed early on the evening of the fire, and his style of doing duty might certainly have been followed with advantage by the gallant soldiers whose bayonets flashed with so much brilliancy in the eyes of women and children on the previous night. The individual referred to was deaf to all the blandishments which were temptingly placed before him, in the shape of illicitly-obtained beer, porter, or Cham- pagne, as to partake of them would have neces- sitated his departure from his post. He marched on his beat with as much circumspection as if he were on parade, and many attempts to get him to disobey orders were made in vain. There is little reason to doubt that any of the properly confided to his care has been injured or in any- way interfered with. If the circumstances were not of such a depressing character, some mirth might have been extracted from the strange manner in which the goods of the various suf- ferers had been thrown together. Kid gloves, oysters, lavender water, and polonies, were the absurdly miscellaneous contents of one basket, whilst suit beef, champagne, and crinolines filled a large barrel.
Shortly after six o'clock, drays began to arrive, and the owners of the properly com- menced the difficult task of searching among the various heaps for their furniture. In many cases the difficulty of identification was enhanced by the rough treatment the articles had received during their hurried transit from the burning houses to the general de- positary opposite. Under the archway of the parliamentary buildings several of the unfortu- nates had made up temporary couches, and on awaking, as if from a dream, appeared stunned at the sad reality by which they were surrounded. However, no delay took place, but they joined those who were before them in endeavouring to find their missing property, and convey it to a place of safely. In spite of the trouble conse quient upon the work, a very great deal of it was accomplished in a short time, and by dinner time there was a considerable clearance made, persons possessing any spare room very willingly coming forward and placing it, at the disposal of their unfortunate fellow citizens. By this means the whole of the damaged stock-in-trade and
furniture was removed from the street, before
sunset yesterday and we understand that many of the persons who were burnt out have already secured premises in which, without any extra- ordinary delay, they will be able to commence business once more. Others are less fortunate; and, although treating their trouble lightly during the day, towards evening it was easy to notice that some slight amount of despondency prevailed, in spite of the effort to vest it under a somewhat transparent screen of jocularity. That such should be the case is scarcely to be wondered at; indeed, the equanimity with which some of the greatest losers appear to regard
their losses is somewhat remarkable.
Our detailed report of the losses sustained, published in yesterday's issue, is substantially correct, although one or two errors have occurred. For instance, it is stated that Mr. Dallas, the saddler, was not insured, which we have been informed by that gentleman is a mistake, he being insured to an extent that will nearly cover
'The following is a list of the Insurance Com- panies which have sustained losses, together with the amount or loss, and the names of the agents :
Company. Agents. Loss. Queensland* ... C. Trundle ... £3200
Colonial ... E. H. Booth ... 4000
Queen ... Bonar ... 6000 Sydney ... H. Buckley ... 3700 Imperial ... Forrest .. 200 Northern ... J. & G. Harris ... 1000 Liverpool and Lon-
don and Globe,
amalgamated .. W. H. Palmer ... 7100
Pacific ... Webb and Sons ... 7000 Alliance ... SydneyAgent-(stated at) 2000
Late in the evening the fire was still burning, here and there a bright glare being occasionally visible whenever the light breeze gave increased vitality to the smouldering embers. The cellar in which it originated still contains a quantity of fire, and at intervals the red gleam as of watch fires illumined the darkness of the night. Probably two or three days will elapse ere it is completely extinguished.
* The claims of this company were most promptly paid within a few days of the fire.
INQUEST ON THE LATE FIRE.
An inquest was held, with reference to the cause of the late disastrous fire, at the Police court, on Monday, December 5, before R. Hancock, Esq., the coroner.
The jury was composed of the following gentlemen:-Messrs. E. W. Fegan, P. Mayne,
W. C. Rush. J. Markwell, and C. Larcombe.
William Hemmant, sworn, deposed as fol- lows : I am a draper, of the firm of Stewart and Hemmant; on the evening of the fire I left business a little after 6 o'clock, and rode home to the other side of Spring Hill; after tea I rode into town, and after talking to you (the coroner) for some minutes we heard the sound of the fire-bell, which I imagined was calling the brigade to exercise; however, as it continued ringing, I got on the horse and rode into Queen-street, and asked a constable where the fire was ; he said, "At the corner," and con- tinued to run up the street ; on reaching the corner I saw a light in the back part, and some men in the act of breaking the back door of the cellar open; as soon as it was opened I saw there was no chance of saving anything in that direction; I then went round to the front, and found the shutters just burst in; I then said to some of the men who were inside " Let us try to save the books," and went into the office for that purpose; the office was so full of smoke that it was impossible to remain there more than a few seconds at a time; and, not having the key of the safe, I was obliged to give up hopes of saving the books; I then endeavored to save a small drawer in the office-table, con- tinuing papers, but was unable to do so ; a man in the crowd said, " Show me where it is, Mr. Hemmant, and I will try and get it ;" he suceeded in doing so, and handed it to me; I took it into the street, and then took it to Mr. Bernays' house; on my return I found there was no chance of getting anything else out; I could do nothing else; but I produced plan of the building, if that would be of any use to the jury
By the Coroner: I generally used to leave the shop about three quarter's of an hour before anybody else.
By the jury; I valued the stock, at a rough estimate, at between £11,000 and £12,000; we were insured for £10,000 ; I do not know how the fire originated ; there was nothing combus tible kept in the cellar ; there was a small quan- tity of kerosene in that place ; one of the papers saved was a trial balance of our affairs up to the 1st October, and the other a balance sheet up to that date.
Alexander Stewart, sworn, deposed : I am a draper, and a member of the firm of Stewart and Hemmant ; on Thursday night last I left the shop about seven o'clock ; I was the last to leave the promises ; I generally was the last ; I always was careful to see that the whole of the lights were put out ; I remember that on the night in question, as well as every other night, I saw the lights extinguished ; it was usual to put the lights down stairs out with a light taken from the shop ; there were two lights burning in the shop that night-one was put out up- stairs, and tho other taken downstairs ; I did not go downstairs immediately after the lamp was taken below, but waited for the porter to come round and fasten the door ; I was all that time in the dark ; after the porter fastened the front door he went downstairs, and I followed him ; after changing my boots in the cellar I blow out the only light that was there, and the porter, when the light was out, went round to fasten the end window; he then left the cellar, and I almost immediately followed ; I know nothing further of it until after three quarters of an hour, when I heard the alarm of fire ; I then came down the town, and when I arrived in Queen-street our place was a mass of flames, from front to buck, and the roof was falling in ; I am not in a position to say what amount of stock we had ; I esti-
mate the loss we have sustained at about £3000.
By the jury : At the time of the fire the stock was estimated by his partner at £11,200 ; there was a lamp in the cellar during the even- ing, but it was blown out by me; no matches were kept in the cellar ; I do not remember the porter seeing me after he left the cellar ; the safe was one of Parry's ; the paper in it is burnt ; no accounts were sent out during that, night; they were furnished from the account the bookkeeper had home with him; it was not usual for him to take home the books ; he took them home in order that he could make up the accounts for the month ; I have no idea as to
how the fire commenced ; no person could throw a light in through the back windows.
By the coroner : We did not leave the cellar for three minutes after the light was put out ; I do not recollect seeing the porter when I left; I do not know what time I left, but think I heard the alarm about three quarters of an hour afterwards.
John O'Brien, sworn, deposed : I am a porter in the employ of Messrs. Stewart and Hem- mant; 1 remember on the night of the fire, shortly after six I began to shut up shop; I lit no lamps that night, having been delivering parcels, but had seen two burning up-stairs; I don't know who lit them ; when I had the whole of the premises closed, with the exception of the front door, which was left open because there was a customer inside ; when she was served, and went outside, I told the cashier to take down the lamp and put it out; I also told him to put the other one out; that was the usual practice; when I put down the last
shutter I went down to the back door in the cellar to get into the house; I fastened the door inside ; I then went up-stairs and found that all the lights were out ; Mr. Stewart was there, and he came to examine if the doors and win-
dows were properly fastened, and I came down to the cellar again before him; there was a lamp burning when I went down ; Mr. Stewart fol- lowed me down immediately, and put out the light; I closed the window in the cellar when the light, was put out, and we were completely in the dark ; Mr. Stewart, blew the light out.
By the jury : Mr. Stewart was out last - he generally-was ; I then went to the stable to lock up the horse, and then went to the front of the house; I met Mr. Stewart there, and walked down Queen-street at the same time that he did ; I think if the lamp was alight I must have seen it ; the lamp was on a case, about two feet square; I have been with Stewart and Hem- mant for two years and a-half ; previously I lived with Mr. Scott in Fortitude Valley;" I knew nothing more of the fire until I saw it had, broken out, and that the place was in flames.
James Macintyre deposed : I was cashier to the firm of Stewart and Hemmant; I remember last Thursday night, when I lit two lamps in the front part of the shop ; I was used to light- ing the lamps; a little while after the two lamps were lit the porter began to close the shop; mid shortly there was no one remaining but the porter and Mr. Hemmant; there was a customer in the shop, and the porter was wait- ing until she went out, before he put up the shutter ; when she was gone I put one of the lamps out, and took tho other one down stairs, and laid it on a case, it was a glass lamp, but I do not remember whether it was nearly full or nearly empty ; I went up stairs, and on coming down again met the porter going out of the back door; there were no loose papers knocking about ; I cannot say whether the case was empty or full; some of the cases in the cellar were full, and others were empty ; there were
no matches in the cellar.
By the Jury : There was no one smoking a pipe in the cellar.
John Enderson deposed : I am book-keeper to the firm of Stewart and Hemmant; I remember that at about a quarter-past six on Thursday night last the porter commenced to close; shortly afterwards I put the cash and books into the safe, leaving out the account-rendered book, petty ledger, and journal; I then locked up the safe, leaving the key on the desk along with the padlock of th outer door; I left the promises about twenty minutes to seven, taking with me the books before referred to, along with all accounts which I had that day made out ; I then went straight home, and some short time after tea heard the cry of fire; I have not the slightest idea how the fire originated; I was in the cellar at half-past five, and have no appearance.
I took the books home occasionally at the end of the month; neither Mr. Stewart or Mr. Hemmant knew that I took the books home.
By a juror: I have been in court while the whole of the evidence has been taken.
The gentleman who asked the question, com- plained of the neglect of the police in not having ordered all witnesses out of court before giving
William M'Fadyean deposed :-I remember sitting at my own door, which is situated about
sixty feet from where the fire broke out, on Thursday evening last, between half-past seven and eight o'clock ; I looked towards Stewart and Hemmant's door, and saw a light about the size of a two shilling piece, towards the cellar door; I thought it was a gentleman with a pipe; the light came through a perforated brick; I could not see the door; I said to my wife, there is some person got a large pipe near Stewart and Hemmant's, when she went to the footpath, and saw the light coming out of the door; she then said that Stewart and Hemmant's cellar was all on fire; I immediately run to the door, and tried to knock it in with my feet nnd hands, but failed ; I then went round to the front, and found that it was shut; I then went to Gan jard's,- and told a number of people who were sitting there, that the whole place was on fire
under their feet; I then returned and called out " Fire," at the top of my voice, and in a minute or so afterwards, the people were breaking in
John Enderson recalled; I did not notice how much oil there was in the lamp which was
Mr. Stewart recalled ; I did not turn the lamp up after blowing it out.
Thaddeus O'Kane deposed; I am on the editorial staff of the North Australian ; I wrote a report of the fire ; I was attracted by the fire bell ; I did not know where it was at the time ; I walked down Elizabeth-street into Albert street, and watched the fire.
A juryman here interposed, and said it ap- peared to him that the witness knew nothing whatever about the origin of the fire.
Mr. Hemmant stated that he would like to ask the witness a question with reference to a statement which had appeared, to the effect that the fire had been occasioned by a boy dropping a kerosene lamp on some light goods.
The witness explained that it was a supposi-
tion of his own.
The jury then retired, and after an absence of about ten minutes, returned with a verdict to the effect that the fire had originated in Stewart and Hemmant's store, but how there was no evidence to show.
We (Brisbane Courier, December 14,) have been informed that the police have suc- ceeded in obtaining a clue to the origin of the late disastrous fire, which, it appears, was occasioned by the carelessness-to use no stronger term-of a number of young black- guards, who were in the habit of assembling at Stewart and Hemmant's corner every evening. Some few minutes before the fire was observed, about half-a-dozen boys, whose ages ranged from eleven to seventeen years of ago, were lighting pipes and cigars at the back of Stewart and Hemmant's cellar, and the lighted matches were thrown about in the most indiscriminate man- ner. The whole of the party then adjourned to the yard at the back of Mr. Mayne's shop, and shortly afterwards the fire was seen to break out. It was evidently regarded as a bit of fun, several of the youngsters remarking what a good job it would be if the whole row of wooden shops was burnt down. The police have vainly endeavored to obtain sufficient evidence to war- rant them in initiating a prosecution, although the whole of the parties are known.