Monday, September 24, 2007

The fire of 2007

"Word gets around when it affects our memories."

The Myer department store has been an institution in the main street of Hobart since 1959. Two days ago, Saturday afternoon shoppers noticed a wisp of smoke coming from between the first and second floors.

Within hours, 15 fire trucks were battling to try and stop a fire that had engulfed the building. The column of smoke could be seen from both sides of the Derwent River. By the time night fell, the 19th century building was in ruins -- the worst fire in the history of central Hobart.

There were no casualties but I found this news very disturbing. Back in the 1960s I had grown up on the next block from Myer and had been past it or through the shop almost every day. The record rack in their basement supermarket had been my introduction to buying music (mono LPs for only $1-99).

Most people in the city would have similar feelings. It was like having a stake driven through the heart of the central business district.

The quote on the first line is from a text message my sister received from Madeleine on the mainland. We even received a similar SMS from Libby in France.

I haven't been in to see it for myself. I guess I have this silly feeling that as long as I don't see it with my own eyes, it's not real. If only....

{Interestingly, I read this wasn’t the first fire on that site - the building was first damaged by fire in 1858. It’s not even the first major department store fire on the block!. Fitzgeralds (now Harris Scarfe) in Collins Street was burned in 1911. And the Green Gate cafe burnt down on the same day in 1984 in the same street. Eerie.}

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