Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thames Fires

During the early boom years, Thames experienced many fires, several major involving multiple buildings in areas such as Pollen Street. Why? The buildings were wooden and quickly built, close together with few fire breaks.  Also the supply of water for fighting fires was often non-existent.

A major fire occurred at the Shortland end of Pollen Street July 1872 and was reported in newspapers throughout New Zealand. By this time the line of fire was over 200 ft. long, and embraced some 15 or 16 buildings of various sizes. The scene was terrifying, and once denoted nothing less than the ignition of the buildings on the opposite side of the street; this was when the wind changed for a few moments and blew directly from the westward, driving the flames and sparks across the street.
A full report is in the Southern Cross 17 July 1872.

In Rev Lush's Journal he notes on 16 July 1872 pg 125
"On looking out our window a truly terrific sight presented itself -a huge, fierce Fire apparently not far off." The family packed essential items thinking that the fire would quickly reach them, but thankfully the fire was controlled.

Many hotels met their demise through fire, such as the Kuranui Hotel 28 August 1876.
Kuranui Hotel (on the left)

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