Destructive Fire in Toronto.
An early morning fire, which broke out near an elevator-shaft on the ground floor of the Rice Lewis & Son’s store at the corner of Victoria and King streets, Toronto, Out., completely gutted the large and handsome 5-story building and its roof, with its costly contents. Chief Thompson turned in a general alarm, as, when the fire department arrived on the spot, the flames were very fierce. After they started at the elevatorshaft, they reached up it as in a flue, spreading into each floor as they went, and mushrooming at the roof till they burned through it. On the ground floor was a very large stock of paints and oils, which, of course, burned fiercely. The flames were breaking out from the windows on both sides, and the smoke was very dense and suffocating. To the south of the premises was the retail department; to the north, the wholesale, which was fortunately separated from the other by a substantial fire-wall, with fire-resisting firedoors, behind which was a large stock of cartridges and gunpowder. Seven lines of hose were laid in Victoria street, and seven more in King street, and the two aerial trucks were successfully utilised in Victoria street. On that street a lane divides the building, and that was of great service to the firemen in their operations. The fire was a quick one, and within an hour and a half the roof fell, thereby aiding the firemen who were operating on the fourth floor and were more than hampered by the suffocating smoke. The fire was fought from the roof of the north part of the building-that in which were stored the explosives, from the adjoining roofs and with the additional help of a length of hose from the Permanent Loan company’s building. In the dividing alley the firemen kept a water curtain constantly “up” between the two divisions of the burning building. The streams thus thrown from each of the five floors, from the aerial trucks and from the ground, forced the flames back south to King street, where they were got under control after a fight of one hour and forty-five minutes. The stout fire-walls and fireproof doors closed off the northern division, and the good work of the firemen on the three sides of the building saved that portion of the firm’s property and averted a disastrous explosion from the stored gunpowder and cartridges. The loss was about $175,000 out of an insurance of close upon $450,000.