"Fire!" yelled Laura. "The boathouse is on fire!"
"The boathouse!" Mrs. Mallory exclaimed and ran to the telephone. She telephoned the fire brigade at Bath, and the police and Mr. Port; if he could bring the keys, then the boats might be saved. But the telephone rang and rang in an empty room - there was no reply from Mr. Port.
Stephen began organising immediately. "Get buckets," he ordered. "Everybody get buckets or anything that will hold water - get everything you can, and we'll go back there and make a chain." He ran out to the stables and shouted to old Potts and seized a coal bucket as he ran.
Mrs. Mallory abandoned Mr. Port. She grabbed the fire extinguisher in one hand and an enamel pail that she used for her flowers in the other and ran. Nanny handed out every conceivable receptacle for holding water that she could lay her hands on. Laura grabbed the rubbish pail, tipped the rubbish out on to the kitchen floor, and with that and a coke scoop flew out of the house. Jill and Penny and John came after, carrying jugs, kettles, even saucepans - Penny staggered under a preserving pan and a plastic washing-up bowl.; then came Nanny, half-dragging, half-carrying a big tin bath that was used for bathing the dogs; old Potts, roused by the shouts from his cosy little room above the stables, shouldered the garden hose and lumbered after the others.
"If - we can - just - keep - it - under," grunted Stephen as he ran, "until - the - fire brigade - comes."
When they reached the boathouse again the girls were horrified to see what a hold the fire had taken. Stephen formed them into a chain with John well in the river filling the buckets and himself at the end, nearest the fire, flinging his useless-seeming little drops of water into the blaze. The flames licked up over the roof and down the whole length of the boathouse; the fire crackled and roared.
From THREEPENNY BIT, Chapter 12, Fire!