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Terrific explosion in Armidale

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Thursday 19 May 1932, The Sydney Morning Herald

Detonators Ignited.



ARMIDALE Wednesday.

Armidale was shaken by a terrific explosion this morning, when 10,000 detonators were ignited during a fire in the produce store of F. Braund and Co, Ltd. in Beardy-street.

A fireman was killed instantly by the force of the explosion and another was fatally injured. Two other men were injured.

It is believed that incendiarists were responsible for the fire. The victims were:-


Beresford Francis Jones. 22, a fireman. His arm was blown from his body and his body was terribly mutilated.

William Robinson, a watchman and fireman. He died later from his shocking injuries He had a family of five young children.


Frederick Maisey, captain of the fire brigade, wounds to the head and body.

F. Flanagan, severe lacerations to the head.

The produce store caught fire about 4.30 a.m., and the alarm was given. Maisey and Jones, who were sleeping on the brigade premises, rushed to the scene of the outbreak. They were joined by Robinson. The produce shed, which is at the rear of the premises was well ablaze. A line of hose was run out, and the firemen directed a steady stream of water on to the blazing shed. It appeared that the flames would be confined to the store, and that little difficulty would be experienced in subduing the fire. Maisey ordered another length of hose to be run out and, with two companions, moved closer to the seat of the outbreak.

Suddenly there was a terrific explosion. The three men were hurled across the yard and showered with jagged glass, beams, and iron from the wrecked building. The flames had reached the explosives shed and had ignited the ammunition.

Jones was killed instantly. Robinson was still alive when the doctor and ambulance men arrived, but he died shortly afterwards. They were dragged from the blazing timbers and debris that practically covered them by other firemen in the face of considerable danger.

The explosion could be heard for miles around. J. C. Jackes who lives four and a half miles from the town, heard the explosion and saw the glare in the sky. Windows of buildings and houses in the vicinity were shattered, and houses for half a mile around were shaken. The whole town was awakened.

The fire and the explosion completely wrecked the building. Houses nearby were showered with the wreckage Flanagan, who was watching the fire, was injured by falling glass that had been splintered by the force of the explosion. Two motor lorries in the building were wrecked. The firemen’s hose was split into pieces.

There are strong suspicions that incendiarists have been at work, and detectives from Sydney have been called in to investigate. The main premises of the company were destroyed by fire a few weeks ago, and the business was being conducted in temporary buildings.

It was reported that shortly before the fire alarm was raised, a car, without headlights, was seen racing through the town towards the Uralla-road.

Jones was a prominent New England League footballer, and was a son of ex-Sergeant M. Jones, who is well known in most parts of the State.

Written by macalba

May 31, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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