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Fire at Derwent Gully

Extracted from the Bendigo Advertiser 17 March 1884

About nine o’clock on Saturday morning a fire broke out in a building known as the Old One Tree Hotel, at the head of the Derwent Gully, near Sparrowhawk which caused total destruction of the place and its contents. The building, which was owned by Mrs Grenfell who was also the occupier, contained eight rooms, and has not been licensed since December. Mrs Grenfell, who is an elderly woman, was engaged in the kitchen during the morning, and when stooping over the fire her dress became ignited.

She unsuccessfully endeavoured to extinguish the flames, and when she found that she was unable to do so she rushed to her bedroom and enveloped herself in a blanket. This proved ineffectual, and Mrs Grenfell, who was then in a frenzy of fear, tore her dress completely off her. She remembers nothing further until she found herself lying near the kitchen door, when she was seized with a fit of vomiting. She also then became aware of the fact that building was on fire. The material used in the construction of the house which was old, and, in consequence, highly inflammable, the fire spread very rapidly, and before the arrival of the Long Gully Fire Brigade, it was entirely consumed. Mrs Grenfell fortunately was not burnt, and attributes her escape to the fact that she was wearing at the time a petticoat made of a material which is difficult to burn.

The origin of the fire is only to be accounted for by the fact that the flames from her burning dress had communicated to the lining of the building. The house and furniture were insured in the Victoria Insurance Company for $100, but Mrs Grenfell estimates that her loss at fully double that amount. Besides some jewellery, there were three $5 and two $1 notes and some silver destroyed. A boarder named W. Carbis lost his personal effects and a sum of money.

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