FIRE AT THE CAULFIELD
A fire which destroyed a large portion of
the Caulfield Grammar School broke out at about half-past 7 o'clock last night, and for a time burned so fiercely that there were all the appearances to those at a distance of a very large conflagration. The college is situated in the Glen Eira road, and is the private property of the principal, the Rev. E. J. Barnett, who, having gone to meet Professor Drummond, only heard of the part destruction of his property some time after tho flames had been extin- guished. The main part of the college is a substantial brick building, once a private house, and with pleasant grounds surround- ing. To the main building, in which in addition to the principal quarters there were dormitories for the boarders on the upper story, some two-story wooden buildings were afterwards added. These consisted of a large classroom, gymnasium, drillroom, servants' quarters, boot- room, and carpenter's shop, the latter being the room in which the fire originated. The fire was first noticed by Miss M'Donald, matron of the college, who was coming down stairs when she saw the flames through the window of the carpenter's shop. The only occupants of the college at the time, in addition to Miss M'Donald, were a pupil who was suffering from influenza and two other lads who had not gone to church, Twenty-seven other boarders, with Mr. Lynch, one of the resident masters, had gone to St. Mary's Church.
Accordingly there was very little chance of checking the fire before it obtained a firm hold of the buildings. The alarm was sent to the local brigades, and the Caulfield No. 2 and Caulfield brigades were prompt in their attendance, and were followed rapidly by other brigades. The nearest fireplug was 1,500ft. from the building, and the pressure not being very strong tho firemen after a time gave their attention wholly to the work of saving the main building by play- ing a single jet upon the dividing wall. Their efforts were in part successful, though at one time there was a strong pro- bability of the whole college being destroyed. Al if was the damage was limited to the burning of the roof of nine of the dormitories on -the upper story, and two ot the bath- rooms, as well as the destruction of their con- tents. The lower rooms of the main building were also a good deal damaged by water, and the furniture, together with a large stock of school appliances, having been removed hastily to a paddock adjoining the school was in one way or another a good deal damaged. The whole of the wooden wing was destroyed. The cost of this building in the absence of the principal could not be ascertained, but at a rough estimate the damage would amount to about £500, while the damage to the main building and its contents would bring the total loss close up to £1,000. The building and contents are insured, it is be- lieved, with the Cornwall Insurance Company, but the amount is not known. It is believed, however, that the insurance is in- sufficient to cover the loss. By 9 o'clock the flames had been completely extinguished.
The carpenter's shop in which the fire originated, although filled with shaving«, had not been opened that afternoon, the carpenter, Webb, who generally works there, not being resident nt the college. He called at midday to do some necessary work at the college. The door of the room was locked, and the key hung in another room, where it was available to anyone kmow- ing that It was customary to keep it there. There is some suspicion of incendiarism, owing to threats of the kind having recently been made by a former employe, and careful inquiries were being made by the local police last night in this direction. During the even- ing the matron Baw a man loiteiing about the college, but was unable to identify him. The immediate result of the Gre was to render 30 students temporarily homeless, but Colonel Sargood kindly made provision for the ma- jority at his place, Rippon Lea, while Mr. Hurtle, manager for W. H. Rocke and Co., who lives near the college, found room at his place for the remainder. Most of the pupils have lost their personal effects by the fire, save what they were at the time wearing. The brigades which attended at the fire were the Caulfield, Caulfield No. 2. St. Kilda, St. Kilda No. 2, Windsor, Prahran, East Prahran, South Yarra, Brighton, Prahran
City, Malvern, Yarraberg, and the In- surance, under Superintendent Stein, who directed operations at the fire. Some of the water need for cxtinguishing the fire was brought a distance of 2,000ft.
One of the founders of the Caulfield Grammar School was the late Rev. J. H. Davies, who left for Corea some time ago to carry on missionary work for the Presby-
terian Church, and news of his death there soon after arrival has just reached Melbourne.