Topic: Fire in the Rotorua Hospital

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On 15 March 1955 the Rotorua Hospital caught fire, but all patients were saved. A call on Radio IYZ was made 'for all taps in the town to be turned off so as to increase water pressure'.

Excerpts from 'The Weekly News' report from Wednesday, March 23, 1955.

"How Rotorua rose to the occasion : rally of townsfolk saved burning hospital"

'Rotorua came through it's "finest hour" last week. Tourists and townsfolk, they saw the fire in the public hospital from near and far, and they swarmed to the scene on Hospital Hill in their hundreds -- some say thousands -- to give of their utmost. Men manned hoses, children carried blankets, women lifted beds, formed chains to rescue vital equipment" ...

The bald estimate of the damage is about £50,000 which included laboratory and dispensary stocks worth £10,000 and year's of patient records. The fire brought about the destruction of the major kitchen and casualty units, as well as most of half a dozen other departments." 

To read the full story click on this link.

The Rotorua Post, published a report on the fire on 16 March 1955.  Excerpts as follows :

"The Kitchen and Out-Patients block of the Rotorua Hospital was burned to the ground last evening, and with the wind sweeping the flames in the direction of the wards, hundreds -- possibly thousands -- of people rallied to save them. The glow could be seen for miles and within minutes they were streaming up the slopes of the hill to where the flames were roaring. They swept the wards clean of patients and furniture, the stores of vital drugs and the offices of valuable files. Everything moveable went out into the night... the Chief Fire Officer, Mr Will C. Clark, had nothing but praise for the scores of volunteers "They were wonderful" he said. The fire probably started about 6.45.          

Mr Thomas Bangs, a carpenter's labourer, of Rotorua told his story of the fire to a reporter as a doctor was treating an ugly cut in his head.  "He had been at Ward 3 visiting his father, he said, when he smelt smoke. He ran towards the kitchen block and saw smoke pouring from under the eaves.  "I couldn't see any flames only lots of smoke" he said. Then there was a bright electric flash right inside the building, and then it was all in flames. I grabbed a fire hose and broke a window and started squirting water inside, but  it didn't do any good.   Another bloke came along and I told him to get an extinguisher. I kept squirting and the smoke got worse and I finally passed out"

To read the full story, ask at Rotorua District Library, 2nd Floor Service Desk for the microfiche of the Rotorua Post.

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Fire in the Rotorua Hospital


20 Pukeroa Street, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand

Latitude and Longitude coordinates: -38.1313025,176.24741199999994

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Date of Event:15 March 1955