Death of Police fireman, Robert Pritchard, 7 Feb 1844, Aged 28
Fire with loss of life
On Tuesday evening week, at a quarter to eight, a fire was discovered in a warehouse used as a cooperage, and belonging to John BARTON, Plumbe St. The alarm was immediately passed to the fire police station and Mr HEWITT immediately proceeded to the spot with nine engines, water tanks etc. He was soon followed by Mr WHITTY, Mr MAXWELL, and numbers of the fire brigade.
The premises being situated in a back yard, which was filled with staves, reaching the height of two stories, the fire had made considerable progress before it was discovered, and on the arrival of Mr HEWITT, the flames were raging so furiously that the dwelling houses at the back and a warehouse adjoining were in the most imminent danger. Densely crowded as the buildings were, and being in close proximity with the premises in which the fire originated, nothing but the most strenuous exertions on the part of the fire brigade could have confined the flames to the warehouse in which they originated, but this was fortunately effected, and about ten o'clock all danger of it spreading further was at an end.
Mr BARTON was partially insured in the Royal Exchange Office, and a large quantity of staves were saved. His loss, however, we understand will be considerable. We regret to add that the loss of property in this instance has not been unattended by the loss of life. One of the fire brigade was killed and two of his companions have been injured. These men PRITCHARD, ARCHER and BELL, were playing upon the ruins, and standing immediately in front of the warehouse. At the moment Mr HEWITT was cautioning them, as he had done before, to look out, for he was sure the wall would fall, indications were given that it was giving way, and before the three men could escape they were buried in the ruins. Mr HEWITT was caught on the heel by some loose bricks, but fortunately reached the archway before the huge mass fell. Every exertion was immediately used to rescue the poor men from their awful situation. ARCHER was found to be only slightly injured on the foot and leg, BELL had his back hurt, but poor PRITCHARD was dreadfully mangled. The gutter stones from the roof of the building caught him at the back of the head, his thigh was broken, and he was much crushed. The three men were taken to the Northern Hospital, where PRITCHARD died the following day at noon. The others are likely to recover.
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