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A professional fireman now in the army told an inquiry court that he believed that the £250,000 fire at the Nungarin Ordnance Depot In February had been started deliberately at several parts of the building. Camp commanding officer said that it was 'inexplicable' that the fire could have started by accident. ? , ? A warrant officer agreed, said that it seemed extremely unlikely that the fire had been
accidental. After the evidence of 21 witnesses had been heard the inquest was adjourned, J Other
witnesses will be heard when, the inquiry resumes on a date to be fixed. . One of the remaining: witnesses is at present in hospital. Alfred Frederick Lawrence, war rant-officer on fire inspection duties and a professional fireman, said that he saw two soldiers at the fire who were . under the influence of liquor and he heard one of them shout seve ral times: 'Let the ? burn.' The next day he heard the same two men/ make several remarks which, he said, led him to suspect that they might have been concerned ?*SHiit=Up:You-Foor Lawrence said that he heard one man say to the other: 'Which one will be next'' and the reply 'Shut up you ? fool.' He said he later heard one of the men say: 'If that is- the way they are going to treat us, we'll ? burn the rest of the — — shed down and they'll have to send us back to' Bushmead.' 'From the suddenness of the out brea. and the quick envelopment of the: Milding, I am of the opinion that it was deliberately set alight in several parts of the building,' Law rence said. Lawrence said that he based his opin .; on the fact that the fire was burning fiercely in portions of the buiirKTX where he had been informed there were no great quantities of in flammable stores. ' Camo CO. Lieutenant-Colonel W. C. Cayley said that he was at the ) hen lie saw reflection from the fire about 8.45 p.m. Tht juilding had recently been takei - over by the. Ordnance Depot for use as disposal storehouse and a quantity of stores had been trans ferred to it during the preceding fort nir 'It is inexplicable to me in view of the nature of the store and its general condition that' the fire could have 'started, by accident.' he said. He said that he inspected the store house- on February 18 and found it in excellent condition. It was one of the buildings in the camp not instal led with the fire sprinkler system. Lieutenant-Colonel Cayley saM that about two- weeks before the date of the fire he had made a suggestion to set up a stores checking system. This meant itemising: the stores on tally cards. 'This suggestion was made known by me' to my executive officers about a week or fortnight before February 19,' he said. 3470 Tyres Among the stores in the building were 3470 motor vehicle tyres,, all of which were classed as new, accord ing to evidence given by Corporal J. C. Knight. ? ' - . Warrant Officer K. L. Andrews, who was- in charge of a sub-depot in the building, said that owing to the fact that the' flames so quickly ' enveloped the building, it seemed' -extremely -un- likely 'that the fire was accidental. Evidence that there did not appear to have been any electrical shortcir cuiting of sufficient strength . to cause the fire was given by Sapper L. A. Lowe,' diesel-engine driver whn was on duty' in the power house on the night of ' the fire. He said that if there had been any serious shorting he would have had an /indication of it Qn the meter in the power house. There was no such indication. . ? Private L. Carter, a member of the fire staff of thecarnp, said that there was not' sufficient water pressure to allow the water to reach the fire. During the course of fighting thej fire, eight hoses had been used and four of them burst. [Before Mr K. H ..Parker, S.M. De tective G. Winning examined the wit nesses. Lieutenant Varney appeared for Headquarters. Western Command;] ( ? A. large ordnance store at Nun-' garin xvas destroyed by fire on the night of February 19. Damage was semi-officially estimated at £250,000. An electric overhead crane, about 20 tank-attack two -pounder gun's, abotii S000 motor tyres, 25 mobile electric 'generators, eight-cylinder engines and a large stock of tools, clothing, \ shovels and unreless equipment were lost. The blaze was so fierce that xvithin an hour of the alarm the building and contents were beyond any hope of being saved.