SMITH STREET, DUNEDIN, OTAGO FIRE
TUESDAY 21 FEBRUARY 1882
OAMARU MAIL, VOLUME IV, ISSUE 1322, 21 FEBRUARY 1882 P2
FATAL FIRE IN DUNEDIN. FOUR CHILDREN BURNED TO DEATH. (From the Daily Times.)
A terrible fire broke out in a small wooden house in Smith-street, near the corner of Dowling-street, shortly after four o'olook this morning, by which four children were burned to death. The house was occupied by Julius BISCHEFSKI, his wife, and four children, who all slept up-stairs. The fire appears to have broken out on the ground-floor of the building, and the family were not aroused until it broke through the upper floor.
Bischefski and his wife got out through a window, leaving the children in bed, but it was not known for some time that there was anyone in the house, as little attention was paid to the maddening screams of Mrs Bischefski. When the Brigade arrived, however, the house was entirely enveloped in flames, and it would have been too late to have rendered any assistance. The names of the four children who were burnt were:
|BISCHEFSKI||Francis (Frank)||8 years|
|KREFT [CREFT]||Thomas||13 years|
The fire spread to the next house on either side, both of which were destroyed. Owing to the lateness of the hour we have been unable to get further particulars in time for going to press.
Later. Three bodies have been found, but will not be taken out until daylight.
About four o'clock this morning a fire broke out in a house in Smith-street, near the junction of Dowling-street, opposite the High School, in a building in the centre of a row of houses owned by Robert Greenslade, an employee in Speight and Co.'s brewery. It was of two storeys, constructed of wood, and occupied by another of the same firm - Julius Bischefski, his wife, their four children, and a nephew, Thomas Crefts, whose parents reside at Pine Hill, but who happened to be staying at Bischefski's.
The origin of the fire is unknown, but it appears that it was first discovered by the inmates of the house. Mr and Mrs Bischefski were sleeping in a front bedroom up-stairs, and had their youngest child (Bertie) aged two years and a half, with them, while their nephew (aged twelve) and their children Frank (seven), Minnie (six), and Martha (four), were sleeping in one bed in a back bedroom on the same floor. Mrs Bischefski states that she was awakened by hearing her boy Frank cry out, "Mamma, its smoking." She immediately got up and rushed to the door of the children's room, but, on opening it she was driven back by volumes of smoke and flames. Her husband then broke through the window of the front bedroom, and dragging her and the child to it, the three half sprang and half fell into the street below from a height of about 10 feet.
Mrs Bischefski is much cut about the face and legs by the glass in the framework of the window, and the child is a good deal shaken, but Bischefski is not hurt. By this time a large crowd of persons had assembled but it was not imagined that anyone was left in the house, the Bischefskis being in so frantic a state that no one could gather that the children were still unsaved. At anyrate, there could have been not the slightest chance of saving them after the escape of the parents, for the room by that time was a mass of flames.
About an hour after the alarm was given the bodies were found lying in a bed, which had fallen in the same position as it stood in upstairs. The bodies were so much charred as to be almost unrecognisable. Mrs Bischefski, who, in addition to her injuries was in a dreadful mental state, was removed to the hospital.
Later. There were five ohildren in the family of Bischefski, who is a brewer in the employment of Mr Speight. Mrs Bischefski jumped out of a window with her infant child in her arms. Crefts, one of the victims, is a nephew of Bischefski. One of the children burnt gave the alarm, saying, "Mother, there is too much smoke." Mrs Bischefski got up and opened the door into the children's room, but was driven back by the smoke and flames. Her husband then broke through the window, out of which they both jumped into the street. Mrs Bischefski is badly cut about the head and legs. The floor of the bedroom fell into the kitchen below, where the four bodies were found.
The four victims of the fire are buried in the Southern Cemetery, Dunedin - Block 41R Plot 13
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