From the Otaki Mail December 27, 1935 BIG BLAZE AT OTAKI

Rita Nicolson ran out in her pyjamas to take this photo of the burning theatre
Rita Nicolson ran out in her pyjamas to take this photo of the burning theatre

Cosy Theatre burned to Ground
Nothing Saved

A fire of disastrous nature occurred shortly before 4 o’clock on Wednesday morning (Christmas Day) when the Cosy Theatre was burned to the ground. Mr Reg. Ryder was on his way to his milking shed when he noticed smoke, and then flames, and immediately cycled to the fire station and aroused Deputy-Superintendent Mathie, who sleeps on the premises. Mr Mathie at once vigorously sounded the siren and in good time the engine was on the scene and four leads of hose run out. Despite the volumes of water no impression was made on the flames, which by this time had a strong hold; therefore attention was turned to the Family Hotel which is separated from the theatre by about twenty yards.

The windows here were smashed by the heat and the walls badly blistered, but the brigade prevented the structure from getting alight. Luckily there was practically no wind. The heat was so terrific that the large number of spectators, who had quickly congregated, were forced back…

The Theatre, owned by the estate of the late Mr W H Ballinger had been leased to Kemball’s Amusements Ltd. some time ago and the interior had been elaborately arranged with drapings, new seats etc, while the latest movie picture machines had been installed.