Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

History Goes Up in Smoke

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

History Goes Up in Smoke

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Nield

By DICK RICHARDS

THE century-old Lawrence hotel is no more after a fire destroyed the building on Sunday night.

At daylight yesterday all that remained were two gaunt brick chimney stacks overlooking a smouldering ruin. The cost of the fire is estimated at $450,000.

The fire was first noticed shortly before 9.30pm. Several fishermen a short way away on the Spit in front of the town heard a loud explosion and within minutes flames were leaping above the two-storey roof.

First brigade on the scene was the Lawrence Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade which fought to stop the blaze spreading to adjoining out-buildings and a nearby caravan park.

It was joined by town brigades from Maclean and Grafton.

Maclean brigade captain Mr Eric Foster said that his crew received the call just on 9.30 pm.

"The Lawrence ferry was waiting to take us across the river and as we crossed we could see the flames shooting through the roof," he said.

"By the time we were on the scene, the roof had collapsed and all we could do was stop the flames from spreading to the caravan park and nearby sheds.

"Fortunately there was no wind blowing at the time and we were able to keep it from spreading."

Owner of the hotel Mr Sid Bates, still visibly shaken by the destruction, said yesterday that he hoped to be able to rebuild.

"It was a fine hotel - a real community place - more like a club than a pub," he said. "It's a mystery how it happened.

"My wife and I left a bit early on Sunday night to have tea in Grafton and our daughter closed the place at 8pm.

"Only about 90 minutes later the fire was seen."

Mr Bates said that the hotel was worth "something like $450,000 but I don't think we would ever be able to build something the same."

Constable Phil Walsh, of Lawrence police, said that from first reports he had received the fire had started near the rear of the hotel. …

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