- News of the day
Telegraph, Tuesday 12 November 1872, page 3
At one o'clock on the morning of Wednesday last a fire was discovered to be raging in Mr. C. Webster's store in Sydney-street. The first intimation of the startling occurrence appears to have been known to Mr. Murtagh, the saddler whose premises closely adjoin the store. He was aroused from sleeping by the sound of some falling object, and a few minutes after heard the cracking noise, of ignited timber, which at once caused him to rush out into the street when directing his glance to the windows of the store he saw the whole building illuminated with the glare of fire. He immediately gave the alarm, and just at the time the Sergeant of Police came running up, drawn to the spot by having seen from his house a short distance away the back windows of the store luridly reflecting the glow of the flames inside.
Before the lapse of many minutes nearly all the residents in the vicinity were apprised of the alarming occurrence, and some of the first on the scene joining with the sergeant, lost no time in breaking open the back door of the store, which until this first attempt to get at the fire was made, to all appearance seemed doomed to destruction.
Amid the excitement and some confusion which prevailed among those who were foremost in making efforts to avert such a catastrophe, the door was forced, and the extent and situation of the fire, which arose from the ignition of a case of wax matches standing close to the timber wall joining the north side of the building, being ascertained, several buckets of water were promptly thrown on the burning mass, when the column of fire, reaching to the roof, and gaining rapid hood of the inflammable materials it encompassed, speedily disappeared, and put thus an end to all apprehensions of what before threatened to be a serious conflagration. It is supposed that the matches were ignited by being struck with an iron rake which fell from the nail to which it was suspended into the case standing directly beneath it. About one-half the matches had burnt when the fire was extinguished, and it is highly probable that most serious results would have been witnessed had the fire broken out an hour or two later.