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From the Sussex Advertiser, 30th September 1845


About half-past seven on Wednesday last, it was reported in Lewes that a fire had broken out in the adjacent village of Glynde, in which direction the glare of the flames was distinctly visible. Soon after a messenger arrived with the intelligence that the fire was on the well-known farm occupied by Mr John Ellman, and that the assistance of the engines was immediately required. A delay of a few minutes occurred which was, in some measure, owing to the fact of the key of the engine not being forthcoming. In the meanwhile Inspector Phillips had given orders for the necessary post-horses being put to the engine. On our informant reaching the spot, shortly before nine o'clock, the engine had arrived but the flames had been extended from the barn, in which the fire broke out, to some stacks in the immediate vicinity. The stacks were placed nearly in a line, and four of these were already involved, with the barn, in one terrific blaze. To prevent it extending to an oat stack, the engine was directed entirely against the fourth in line, but a new difficulty here arose – the only water that could be obtained was from a pond at a distance of nearly half-a-mile, and the whole of the supply rendered available, was brought through about 400 yards of hose, a long line of the inhabitants of Lewes and Ringmer, and the farmers of the adjoining parishes, occupying the remainder of the distance, and passing the buckets backwards and forwards with commendable activity – an example which not a few of the villagers seemed by no means to imitate. The engine was played as rapidly as the supply of water would allow, but it had obviously little or no effect on the mass of burning material. The roof of the barn, which was filled with wheat, had fallen in, but it still continued to emit volumes of flame and smoke, and the fired stacks were also still burning with the greatest fury. In the meantime tarpaulins had been brought to cover those that had as yet escaped, and at length it was decided that an attempt should be made to remove the oat stack which was nearest the scene of danger. This was accomplished without any great difficulty, and afterwards a wheat rick was removed in a similar manner. The damage has been estimated at £1,400, but we are happy to state that the property is insured. It is impossible to ascertain satisfactorily the cause of this destructive fire, Mr Ellman declares his belief that it arose accidentally, from the ashes of some wayfarer's pipe, who had taken shelter in the hovel. There is a story current of some stranger having been met running away in a contrary direction to the fire, almost immediately after it was discovered, and it is supposed that this individual was the wayfarer alluded to. At present however, all remains mere matter of surmise. We cannot conclude without adverting to the very gratifying exertion of Captain Mackay and the East Sussex Constabulary, and to the fact that many of the tradesmen of this town [Lewes] and the neighbourhood readily rendered assistance as to procuring water, and the other arduous toils of the night. In the course of the confusion incidental to the occasion, a young man from Lewes, who was indulging in some remarks as to the fire, was given into custody by Mr Ellman. After some short time, however, no charge being preferred against him by that gentleman, he was set at liberty; but we cannot learn that there was any cause for this arrest, save the remarks to which it was stated he had given vent relative to the fire.

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