ONE MORE NUMBER.
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FIRES—CAUSES AND PREVENTION.
It is estimated that the total annual losses of insured property by fire, throughout the world, average nearly two hundred million dollars. Add to this the annual destruction of uninsured property, and we should probably have a total amounting to quite double these figures. How great the loss, how severe the tax upon the productive industry of mankind, this enormous yearly destruction amounts to, will come home to the minds of most readers more directly if we call attention to the fact that it just about equals the value of our total wheat crop during a year of good yield. And it is a direct tax upon productive industry everywhere, because, although here and there a nominal loser, fully insured, has only made what is sometimes called "a good sale" to the companies holding his risk, this is only a way of apportioning the loss whereby the community at large become the sufferers. Thus it is that we find all ably-managed insurance companies earnestly endeavoring to make it plain to the public how fires should be guarded against, or most effectually localized and controlled when once started.
During the fall, or from "lighting up" time till about New Year's day, more fires occur ordinarily than in any other portion of the year. This fact points to some of the most general causes of conflagrations—as in the lighting and heating of houses, factories, etc., where this had not been necessary during the summer months. It is also found that after the first of the year the number of fires is greatly diminished, the lighting and heating arrangements having been subjected to a period of trial during which their most obvious defects would be remedied. While it may readily be conceded that the utmost care of the owner of property could not totally prevent great average losses from fire—for the greater the holdings the more must the proprietor trust to the oversight of others—it is evident that the above facts indicate the necessity of more strenuous precautions at this season....