The following appeared in yesterday's Third Edition
THE FIRE AT HORDERN'S
A Tremendous Blaze.
Main Buildings Destroyed.
Damage Estimated at £1,000,000.
SYDNEY, Wednesday Afternoon,
The fire at Anthony Hordern and Sons,
Haymarket, this morning, is described as one of the biggest in Australia.
A strong and cold westerly wind was
blowing early this morning. The crowds of busines people coming into the city by train, tram, and foot, about 8.30 o'clock, suddenly observed flames emerge from Hordern's Palace Emporium, and in less time than it takes to describe the fire spread and the flames rose hundreds of feet high. The fire brigades were soon on the scene, and at once commenced the fiercest fire struggle known in Australia. The battle, however, had little
result until practically the whole of the three main buildings of the company's premises were demolished.
The fire broke out in the toy department, on the basement, facing Gipps-street, in close proximity to the huge city gasometer. A few of the employees who commenced work at 8 o'clock with difficulty escaped with their
Thousands of people watched the work of the brigades with bated breath and in awe stricken silence. Some of the employees escaped ; but it is surmised that some were consumed with the flames. Time alone can tell, when the debris is searched, how many. The debris was carried by the wind a great
It is reported that the stock was insured in London offices for £350,000.
Harry Clegg, 22, an unmarried man, who resided with his parents and who had been employed at Hordern's for some years, this morning was engaged in the blind department, packing, when the fire commenced. He was apparently forced by the rapid extension of the fire to rush to the highest storey, the eighth. On arriving there the flames sur- rounded him, and varions attempts to seek shelter were unsuccessful. Then he emerged in the front of the bnilding, and the crowds cheered him. The firemen adjusted their ladders, but found them of insufficient length. The position was most pathetic. Silent crowds, pierced by indescribable agony, watched the unfortunate young man as a tarpaulin was outstretched make a jump. It was a jump into eternity. He had to fall 100ft., and when he reached the tarpaulin he became a mass of pulp. His clothes and body had been previously burnt.
C. Borthwicke, 46, another employee, had a sensational experience and a most miraculous escape. He succeeded in reaching terra firma with a broken leg.
The firemen, notwithstanding the intense heat, worked heroically. Words piled upon
words cannot describe the scenes of the
morning, especially among the employees, observable to the naked eye.
No insurance, it is said, can cover the actual loss of stock and the unhinging of trade. Univer[s]al sympathy is expressed on
behalf of the firm.
The origin of the fire is at presen[t] unknown, but it is surmised that lit was caused by the fusing of an electric wire.
Mr. John Bee (the Premier), with Mr. Critchett Walker, visited the scene during the morning and ordered the blocking of the George-street traffic until the walls had been pulled down.
A few of the adjoining shops and many others in the vicinity were damaged by the blaze, but fortunately escaped serious damage.
The fire has now been subdued. Excepting for the bare walls the buildings in George and Gipps streets have all been destroyed. Clegg is now believed to be the only employee killed. Some of the female employees saved themselves by sliding down a rope.
Had the fire occurred an hour later terrible loss of life must have resulted.
The city gasometer was safely guarded and emptied quickly, so that no explosion
The firemen rescued two of the employees
from the lift-well.
Bitter complaints are made with regard to the police interference with the men holding the tarpaulin for rescue work. Clegg fell face downwards ; his skin and flesh peeled off when water was appliesd to the body at the
The firm hopes to obtain premises to recommence business to-morrow. The firm's managers state that during the past few months the warehouses were stocked with goods valued at £300.000. The firm's morning post, containing orders from the country, was all saved.
An observer says that Clegg, before his death, stood out like a statue against the sky, waving his hands, and evidently calling for help. Suddenly he seemed to abandon hope ; then he knelt and prayed, and jumped down, head first.
The chairman of the Fire Brigade Board says that the fire proves the want of more men, accommodation, and apparatus.
It is estimated that £1,000,000 worth of damage was done by the fire.
The police generally worked splendidly. They arrested one man for confiscating goods.