The top floor of Timaru's Colonial Mutual Life Assurance (CML) building on the corner of Stafford and Strathallan streets was almost completely destroyed by fire on 17 April 1951.
The fire was thought to have started in the kitchen of the SC Women's Club and was well involved by the time it was discovered.
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Tasman Electric was located on the ground floor and several other nearby business were also under threat - the street was said to have resembled a high-class jumble sale as public, police and boy scouts helped remove stock to safety.
The street was littered with electrical equipment, fur coats, rolls of carpet, delicatessan products, fruit and confectionery.
The Timaru Fire Brigade was credited with saving the day with the help on their new 75ft extension ladder, recently imported from England, which enabled them to direct water into the centre of the blaze and gain eventual control.
- The Timaru Herald