Fire at Groves Timber Mills

G. A. Groves Pty. Ltd., Merri Parade, Northcote

G. A. Groves Timber Mill in Merri parade was destroyed twice in the 20th Century by fire. The first in 1933 was blamed on a group of boys who were seen cutting through the grounds on their way to the creek to catch yabbies. According to the mill's watchman J Huish, the boys started a camp fire to cook their catch in jam tins but their afternoon fun got out of hand. The culprits took off with Huish in pursuit but he abandoned his chase in favour of rescuing the mill's ledgers from the burning office.  Huish became the hero of the hour after letting the mill horse out of its stable so it would not be burned alive. The mill was totally destroyed and the damage estimated at £7000. Thirty workers were temporarily out of work until the insurance came through and the mill was rebuilt.

The second fire happened on Wednesday 10 February 1943. On that occasion a fire raged out of control after wood shavings near an overheating lathe caught fire. It quickly spread, forcing Ida Duncan, the company secretary to flee to the office to rescue the company records. Overcome by smoke she collapsed and had to be rescued by Claude Bond, who had seen her plight.

Flames spread across the creek and threatened nearby houses, the flames being visible in the city. Nearly £15,000 damage was done by the blaze.

WOMAN'S NARROW ESCAPE IN MILL FIRE. (1943, February 10). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p.5.

BIG TIMBER MILL BLAZE: BOYS BLAMED FOR OUTBREAK. (1933, March 18). The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 - 1954), p.2.

TIMBER MILL FIRE: BOYS RESPONSIBLE. (1933, March 20). The Northern Miner (Charters Towers, QLD : 1874 - 1954), p.3.