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Midnight Blaze at Healesville TWO MAIN STREET SHOPS GUTTED,. SPLENDID4WORK IRE-BRIGAD 7,
At about' f1.30 on Tuesday night, while strolling homeward through Healesville's famous main thorough fare after erperging from Fairbanks' with hot pies, Messrs. Bert Fisher, Wally Brown, and another young fel low named "Merv," from the Grand Hotel, were amazed tc see smoke and flames issuing from Mr. F. William. son's drapery and furniture store. Fisher, who was toting a bottle of beer, immediately dashed to the fire alarm outside Mr. Milton Dawborn's grocery store and broke the glass with the beer bottle. "The only thing that got my goat was having to break the bottle," said Fisher afterwards. Snmart Response by Firemannl Leppin. Fireman Miek Leppin, who acts as watchman and caretaker at the Hcales ville Fire Station, was immediately aroused by the alarm, and, dashing outside, he rang the firebell vigorous ly, and then dashed in again and brought out the fire engine. Without waiting to don more cloth ing than slippers, a pair of pants and a thin cotton singlet, Leppin jumped into the driver's seat of the motor fire waggon, and, alone and unaided, drove in a few moments to the scene of the blaze. The brigade secretary, Mr. Harold Chandler, of the Mayfair Cafe, who also received automatic information of the outbreak, ran down the street and reached the scene a second or two after Leppin. Captain Frank Johnstone and his son. Fireman John stone, were also on the spot Inside a few seconds, and in about two min utes nearly all members of the bri gade were in fierce combat with the flames. Whole Town Aroused. Soon, as a result of the clanging oe the fire bell, crowds of citizens, many in scanty night attire, were also dash ing to where the heavens were illum inated by savage tongues of flame. The firemen, in less time than it takes to tell, coupled three hoses to the water mains, and, fortunately, there was a good pressure. The night was calm and still, and a light dew was falling. The flames had already gained a strong hold on thile thin, wooden, match-like building, and were aug mented by the draught which came from underneath, there being a drop below the main floor of about 15 feet, In some quarters it is thought the outbreak must have first occurred at about 11 p.m., and the firm hold the flames had. on the entire floor, walls, and the front portion of tile room seelted to lend credence to this the ory. It was also said that about the time when Fisher gave the alarm the out break was noticed from Mr. P. L. MlacNamlara's residence above his garage, where a bridge game was said to have been In progress. Firemen's Splendid Work. With the trio of hoses playing at full pressure on the front portion of tihe building, the firemen and their 11many helpers found themselves up against an Herculean task, and for some time it appeared their efforts
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were In vain. The fldies by now had reached the adjoining property, the Barbecue Cafe and milk bar, conduct ed by Mr. and Mrs. Bert Dennehy. A few moments earlier some of those who were fighting the flames, realising that the Derinehys' property was endangered, and obtaining no re sponse to their attempts to arouse them, began to chop down the front door of the cafe, and on forcing their entrance they soon aroused Mr. and Mrs. Dennehy, who had been sound asleep. Other willing rescuers also rushed inside and salvaged most of the furniture and shon fittings by running them out into the street, These efforts had hardly ceased when the cafe became a blazing inferno, and all hope of saving it was lost, Ine of Shops Threatened. On the other side of Williamson's, and between it and Wallder's butcher shop, there is a vacant allotment of about fifty feet, hidden from view by the dilapidated tourist map hoarding which was going to be renovated, along with other district signs, some time back, but which was never done. ,nUrgc sneets ofLlame were tonguing vaivdly across the allotment anr licaK in11g valluer's shop, whicn seemeu in Imminent danger of destruction. Had it caught alight, it is practically cer tain that the adjoining stores-Toz er's, Dawborn's and Thomas's, all of ilgat wooden construction -- would nave gone up in sm.?te also. Electriciian's Daring Feat. Nicholson street was now thronged with people, and the blaze was of such magnificence and extent that tile dense Ilames could have been seen many mlles away. Another -daiger now arose-from tile high powered electric cables over head-and Eliectrician Jack Carter, or tile State Electricity Commission, caused a thrill to run througn the crowd by his hazardous action in climbing to the top of the long exten slon indder, leaning precariously against a post enveloped In. flames and hastily severing thi. cables; . When just about to make his des cent, portion of the front veranaan fell in, and Carter was subjected to a heavy shower of burning sparks. Unperturbed, however, he continued his descent, and reached ground safe ly ahild a salvo of applause. Motor Garage Endangered. On the other side, of the Barbecue Cafe dire danger arose from the tact that the adjoining premises were those formerly tenanted by Mr. Jack I aker as a motor garage, the floors and walls of which were saturated with oil and petrol, and an explosion would doubtless follow its ignition. The firemen and their helpers smash ed down the garage doors, and after running into the street a motor car housed therein, belonging to Mr. J. Lockhart, they centred their efforts on attacking the cafe flames from the garage roof. The next adjoining property-the Maroondanh Cafe-wass also seriously threatened, and it is said that halt the town ran Into Mr. Frnllpton's roomns and bundled all his furniture t:nd belongings into the street.
Brigade Fights Stolidly. The firemen now seemed to gain an advance on the flames, their val iant efforts being aided by a good water pressure, and the possibility of the outbreak extending any further seemed more remote. Gradually the fire brigade's splen did work was rewarded by an ap preciable diminution of the flames, and they managed to get the confla gration under firmer control. They fought doggedly till about 1.30, and fortunately no breeze arose to Impede their progress. Williamson's store and Dennehy's cafe were completely gutted, and no thing from Williamson's was saved. Mr. Williamson, who lives at Mt. Eve lyn and has a strawberry plantation at Toolangi, -had been at Healesville earlier in the evening, having depart ed In his car at about 10.30. The fire alarm which first gave in timation of the outbreak was one of those recently installed in the main street on the insistence of Cr. Daw born. The Insurances. Williamson's store was owned by Mrs. S. H. Bradshaw snr., and was covered by insurance. The Barbecue Cafe was owned by the estate of the late Mr. Watts, news agent, Malvern, and was also said to be insured. Mr. Dennehy's furniture and fit tings were uninsured. Baker's garage, owned by Miss Mary J. Phillips, of Healesville, was insured in the I.O.A. Company.