For several days the smell of burning pervaded the house although no one could find the source. But early on the morning of the 1st February 1905 a fire broke out near the main heating boiler, and quickly engulfed the whole house. Luckily the household was evacuated safely.A scan of a local postcard from the time, depicting the fire.This was in the earliest days of the Fire Brigade, and before the telephone of course. One of the estate workers had to gallop on horseback 3 miles to nearby Hemel Hempstead to raise the alarm. A horse-drawn manual water pump was dispatched, which arrived an hour and a half later, at 5am. By this time the estate workers were trying to save the contents of the house, the library contents, antiques and paintings. Things were made worse by the fact the house is on top of a hill, a long way from any water source. Attempts were made to pump water up the hill from the River Gade, but the distance proved too great and the hose pipes were not able to contain the water pressure.During the next day hundreds of sightseers came from the surrounding area to view the spec-tacle. After the fire had gone out and when it looked safe, the butler and footman, worried about looting, started to return the wine to the cellar which was still intact. Unfortunately just at that moment an interior wall collapsed, crashing through the cellar, instantly killing the butler. The local newspaper gives a very graphic description of the footman, pinned down by the red-hot bricks crying for help. He was eventually extracted, but his burns were so bad that he died the next day in hospital.The fire and deaths were a spur to the local council, with help from private individuals, to build a new fire station in Hemel, and acquire their first steam-powered water pump.