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EXPLOSION AND FIRE.1
PEOPLE IN PERIL.
A TEEMENDOUS BLAZE. PICTURE PALACE* CATCHES ALIGHT.
AUDIENCE LEAVE QUIETLY.
Svdnev. March 15.
An explosion occurred in a second-storey room at Young's Buildings, Pitt and Park stieet-i. yesterday afternoon, and was fol- lowed by a burst of ihme from the win- dows. Before the brigade could be noti- fied the whole of the upper floors were ablaze. Nine people were working on the top floor«; at tlie time of the outbreak, r.nd though they made a dash for safety as soon as the sound of the explosion reached their ears, they barely escaped with their lives. The top floor of the building was occupied by Messrs. Richard Proudford. James Page, Frank O'Keefe, and William Brpwti, working bootmakers, They used practically the yvhole of the floor as a common workroom, and they were all working in it when the explosion
occurred. On the same floor were Miss ' Smith and Miss Willcox, who were en- ' gaged in cleaning the offices, and Mr. C. ! Goddard, a gilder. When the explosion, which seemed to shake the building and to come from almost under their feet, oc- curred, they all made a dash for the win- dows. Tongues of flame were already lciping from the Film Company's offices, on the floor below. Two other persons, a man .uid a woman, who were in the shoe- makers' room, made a rush for the stair- case. They disappeared into the smoke, but the others were unable to follow. The flames were already sweeping up stairs. Six months ago the building had no fire escape, but the fire brigade compelled the owners to erect one, and the imprisoned
men and women realised now that it was
their only hope. To reach it they had to break through the office occupied bj- Mr. Constardine, an advertising agent. The women were becoming hysterical and had to bs half carried through the window to the fire escape and down to the bottom of the ladder. Here the escape ended, and a -10-ft. 'drop on to the roof of Mr. Iien. derson's ironmongery shop_ had to be made
before the six people found themselves safa. Mr. Goddard meantime had just been able to climb out of his window and drop to the roof below before the flames enveloped his office. He joined the others on the roof, and the party started to make their way along to the nearest build- ing, which was high enough for them to climb into. This was the Barley Mow Hotel, at the corner of Bark and Castle- reagh streets. To reach it the fugitives had to clamber over 100 yards along the tops of the intervening shops. They had, as one of the women said, just escaped with their lives.
By the time the three motor engines from the Central Fire Station arrived the
rooms surrounding the Film Company's offices were a huge mass of flame. The inflammamble material made a tremendous blaze, and the surrounding offices caught almost before the hosrs could be got to woik. On the Pitt-street side of the building is the Victoria Picture Palace. At the time of the fire it- was three-parts full of people. The manager (Mr. Charles F. Jones! was notified of the fire next door. He realised the danger, and walking on to the stage asked the people to leave quickly
and quietly. In a few minutes the theatre was empty. "By that time the roof was afire in several places. The two top floors of Young's Buildings were gutted. The occupiers gf the second floor offices, where the fire origi- nated, were, the , Universal Film Company, Express Film.'-! Service Com- pany, Lincoln Cass .Film~ Gompany, Mr. J. R. Read (estate agent), ,Mr. L. Sher mami (tailor), Messrs. -Morrison- & ^Forbes, and -Mr.' -J. ConstaTdine"*- (advertising agent). The occupiers >of the top floor were Messrs. Page. O'Keefe, Brown and Proudford (bootmakers), C .Goddard (gil- der), and the caretaker. The damage by fire and water was considerable. The rhops of Messrs. Marshall Bros, (chemists), Mark 'Berg (tobacconist), and A. DeLuca (fruiterer) all suffered.