Mr Roussel was living in his brother in law Mr Lucien Lambert’s house after he had been called up for war, and was managing the workshops. On Sunday morning, around half past six, he was surprised to hear crackling noises from the workshops as he was getting up. He opened the door which gave access to the workshops, and straight away, a thick smoke came out so he hurried to give the alert. While he was waiting for help, Mr Roussel threw on the fire a few extinguishing grenades and, with the help of neighbours, was able to save a few pieces of furniture.
A few moments later - which felt like forever because the fire was progressing so rapidly and was getting towards the house - a detachment of soldiers for the Allied troops arrived with the Langres firemen, followed by those from Saint-Geosmes.
The fire engine could only drown the ruins and prevent the main building from being completely destroyed by the flames.
Each man did his duty and we have been told of the bravery of three or four Allied soldiers who, defying the flames, took positions in very dangerous places, to the admiration of everybody.
On the scene, members of the municipality, a few town councillors and Mr Bassand, Captain of the Gendarmerie, were seen.
Around half past ten, the fire was extinguished but the ruins were still watered to prevent the fire from starting again.
As we have said, there isn’t much left from the large workshop adjoining the main building; only collapsing walls. The woods are still burning, and a fireman is constantly on site to water the ruins.
Only the wooden warehouse which is located about thirty metres away from the house, wasn’t reached by the flames.
A few pieces of furniture and part of the accounts could be saved. As for the safe box, it remained in the fire with many farming instruments which were being built or repaired as well as timbers and equipment.
any crates full of petrol and oil could be taken away in time.
Mr Roussel who, on Saturday evening around 8, checked the workshops as he did so every night before going to bed, hadn’t noticed anything unusual.
There is much speculation about what caused this fire, which seemed to be accidental.
The damage was very important and valued at 100,000 francs minimum: 40,000 francs for the building and furniture; 60,000 francs for tools, timbers, farming machines and other goods.
The losses are covered by insurance with “La Providence”, “Le Soleil” and “La Confiance”.
(Le Spectateur, 21 November 1917)