THE FIRE IN GREY-ST INQUEST ON THE CHINESE VICTIMS
An inquest was held this morning at Gleeson's Hotel to inquire into the circumustances surrounding the death of William Wah (cook) and Sing Hung (market gardener) who were accidentally burned al the laundry of Sam Kee in Grey-strect, early on Friday morning. Dr. Philson (Coroner) look the evidence and Mr T. Quoi aeled as interpreter. Constable Oliphant represented the police and Mr Ah Kew was present on behalf of his fellow countrymen. Mr James Collett was chosen foreman of Ihe jury.
Sam Kee, who was sworn in the Chinese fashion, deposed, through Mr Quoi, that he was a laundryman and livid at the laundry destroyed by fire. He identified the bodies as those of William Wall and Sing Hung, and said ihc, were natives of China. They lived in the laundry with witness and he last saw them alive at the laundry at II p.m. on Thursday. At this time witness said both men were sober and ihey had not been smoking opium. Wall was 60 years of age and Hung 41. Deceased had no supper before going to bed. The house was 2 storeys and was lighted by gas only in the lower storey. Deceased slept, in seperate rooms upstairs, but another man named Gee Tai slept in Wall's room. Witness slept in Hung's room. When they went in bed each had one sperm candle. Witness put out Wah's candle, but he was not sure if Hang's wick was extingmished. The candles stood on the table, and witness was soon asleep, He was awakened two or three hours afterwards by hearing a crackling noise below the stairs, and on getting up saw flame on the stairs: He gave the alarm and roused Hung up. He also called out to Wah, who got up. Witness did not go into the room, he then jumped out by a back window into the yard, some 20 feet below. He saw Gee Tai come out of a front window on lo the verandah but he saw no other persons. AI this time the Fire Brigade had not arrived. He saw the Fire Brigade afterwards endeavouring to put the fire out. Witness said the washing place was at the rear, where the boiler was located. It was in use on the day previous to the fire, Gee Tai put it out at 1 p.m. on Thursday. There was a charcoal stove at the back of the ironing room, he saw the fire there on Thursday put out. Witness believed the fire originated in the lower storey, but he could not say in which room. The Foreman: This appears to be another case like the fire at the D.S.C. The lire Brigade were not quick enough. : Constable Oliphanl: I have a constable here to say that the Fire Brigade were present five minutes after the alarm was given. The fire was burning some time before the alarm was given. Gee Tai, laundryman, who slept, on the premises, said the (fre broke out in the lower storey. He did not know how the fire began. To a Juryman: The windows of the house lifted, but there were no sash cords. Constable R. Lanigian in his evidence said he was at the fire at 3.25a.m. on Friday with Constable McDonald. At this time the fire had a good hold. It was mostly in Ihe back" of the building.Only the inmates of the adjoining shop were then about. It was impossible to enter the building, but witness went into a right-of-way on the left of the laundry. Witness thought the fire originated in the second drying room on the ground floor, 'there were three rooms on the ground floor. The fire Brigade arrived at the fire about the same time, as witness. He thought, the Brigade were late in getting the alarm,but they succeeded in saving the adjoining building. The fire traveiled very quickly. After the fire was extinguished witness found the remains of Wah face, downwards in the front room upstairs facing the street. Wah was evidently more suffocated than burned. Sing Hung's body witness found in an adjoining room. The body was completely charred.
The Coroner said no evidence had been put before the jury to show how the fire originated. Itwould be best to return run open verdict.
The jury then returned a verdict 'That the deceased came to their death through burning, but their was no evidence to show how the. fire originated.' Mr Quoi then made a statement to the jury that gunpowder had been wrapped up and lighted and thrown info the shop by larrikins. The Chinese had been frequently annoyed in this way.
The funeral of the two Chinese leaves Mr Little's premises to-morrow afternoon. Auckland Star, Volume XXIX, Issue 107, 7 May 1898, Page 2