TE AWAMUTU FIRE
The following was from the New Zealand Herald - 100 Years Ago - for the 29 September 2006.
FOUR CHILDREN PERISH IN HOUSE INFERNO.
Four children have burned to death despite the heroic efforts of rescuers.
Three little boys and one girl, whose ages ranged from two to 13, lost their lives under most heartrending circumstances, as the result of a fire which occurred in Te Awamutu between 10 and 11 o’clock last night.
The victims were the children of Mr and Mrs Henry Hector HUTT, the local manager for the New Zealand Dairy Association, their names being Charles (13), Hector (6), Ethel (5) and Willie (2).
It appears the family retired to bed early in the evening, and the eldest daughter was awakened by the fire. She immediately gave the alarm to her parents, who occupied a room at the top end of the dwelling, and had with them a baby.
The dwelling was an old one, and by this time the fire had a very strong hold and the smoke was dense in all the rooms. Mr Hutt and his wife, with the baby in her arms, escaped in safety. The husband made an effort to rescue the sick boy, Willie, but was driven back by the flames and smoke.
By this time the neighbours began to arrive and heroic efforts were made by Mr ATKINS (who was severely burned), Mr Taylor WOOD, and Captain BERRY to rescue the children, but owing to the dense volumes of smoke and flames all hopes of saving them had to be abandoned, and the unfortunate children became victims of the flames.
There were no cries from any of them, and it may be supposed that they were suffocated during the early stages of the fire.
The family consisted of nine children and all the boys lost their lives. The loss of life may be accounted for from the fact that the dwelling was very old, and burned like matchwood. Its peculiar construction also made escape difficult.
At midnight the charred remains were discovered. All the bodies were lying upon wire-woven mattresses, as if the victims had never moved from their beds.
Nothing was saved, and the inmates escaped in their night attire. The furniture and effects were insured for £100 and the piano for £50.
An inquest was opened this afternoon, before Mr J B TEASDALE, Coroner, and was adjourned until next Wednesday.
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