History 1976-1977

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1976

February 8, 1976
At 2:16 a.m. Sunday, February 8, 1976, Lawrence Road firefighters were called to help Trenton firefighters at a three-alarm fire involving a warehouse at 1550 New York Avenue. Engine 222 responded first for ember patrol then to the scene to assist in hoseline operations. Lawrence Road firefighters were on the job for 3.5 hours. The following letter, dated February 10, 1976, was received from Chief Daniel P. George of the Trenton Fire Department: “Just a brief but official ‘thank you’ for your service to the City during the three-alarm fire on February 8, 1976. Please express my appreciation to all the members of your company.”

February 9, 1976
Discussion on purchasing the company first chief’s vehicle was held during the meeting on Monday, February 9, 1976: “Chief Ted Clemen Jr. said he had a price of $2,600 on a 1973 Ford station wagon from Keat’s Ford. It was passed by the floor to buy the station wagon if it has been checked out okay by Tommy Smires.”

February 14, 1976
At 11:41 p.m. on Saturday, February 14, 1976, Lawrence Road firefighters were dispatched to Apartment 1E at 175 Johnson Avenue for a kitchen fire. The blaze was contained to a pot of food on the stove but the apartment was heavily-charged with smoke when Lawrence Road firefighters arrived. Firefighters removed three residents from the smoke-filled apartment. One woman was then transported to Helene Fuld Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation. The Lawrence Road firefighters wearing SCBA who performed the rescues were: John LemMon, Tim Kasony Sr., Richard Laird, Robert Szejner, and Thomas Furch.

March 17, 1976
The following item was printed in the Lawrence Ledger on Wednesday, March 17, 1976: “Standard fire drill procedures conducted at the Quaker bridge Mall Sunday may have resulted in a noon water leak that flooded some areas near the southeast corner of Bambergers, according to police reports. Lawrenceville Assistant Fire Chief Richard Hocking told police the three fire companies were testing the mall’s hydrant capacity by pumping water. When they stopped using the water, a surge may have occurred causing a defective or improperly installed spot in the line to rupture, though these drills have been staged countless times before without incident, he reported. There was minor damage to the floor of the Music Scene store…” Accompanying the story was a photo of a flooded section of mall floor.

April 19, 1976
Lawrence Road Firefighter Michael Barry burned his right hand while fighting a fire in an unoccupied shack at 43 Greenfield Avenue on Monday, April 19, 1976. The fire was reported at 3:06 p.m.

May 9, 1976
Lawrence Road Firefighter Tim Kasony Sr. cut his leg and suffered smoke inhalation while battling a blaze in a two-story house at 11 Newberry Avenue on Sunday, May 9, 1976. The fire, which was of suspicious origin, was reported at 1:52 a.m. Flames were contained to the rear of the home. Firefighters were on scene for two hours.

June 7, 1976
At 7:43 p.m. on Monday, June 7, 1976, the Lawrence Road Fire Co. was dispatched to assist Slackwood firefighters at a working fire in a garage/warehouse on Myrtle Street. Lawrence Road firefighters were in service for 90 minutes and used 150 feet of 3-inch hose, 150 feet of 2.5-inch hose and 500 feet of 1.5-inch hose. The following story was published in the Trentonian on Tuesday, June 8, 1976: “A fire of undetermined origin swept through a warehouse owned by the Delaware Construction and Landscaping Co. on Myrtle Avenue in Lawrence last night, causing an estimated $20,000 worth of damage. No one was hurt in the blaze, although Slackwood Fire Co. Chief Rudolph Fuessel said a few of his men were overcome with smoke. Fuessel said the blaze, which was reported at 7:45 p.m., appeared to have started in a room containing plywood sheets. ‘Right now it’s of undetermined origin,’ he said. ‘There were reports of kids in the area right before the fire, so there will be an investigation.’

June 10, 1976
Three Lawrence Road firefighters were injured at a blaze at 74 Lawn Park Avenue on Thursday, June 10, 1976. The blaze in the two-story dwelling was reported at 9:34 p.m. It started in a second-floor bedroom on the west side of the home after a short-circuit occurred in an extension cord. Lawrence Road firefighters, assisted by the Slackwood Fire Co., contained the fire to the bedroom and the roof. During the blaze, Patrick Kent and Gino Bossio both suffered finger injuries and Clinton Groover hurt a leg. Lawrence Road firefighters were on scene for 2.5 hours.

July 17, 1976
At 2:16 p.m. on Saturday, July 17, 1976, Lawrence Road’s Truck 223 (Ford utility truck) was dispatched for cascade duties at a house fire at 6 Woodhampton Drive in Ewing Township. The blaze heavily damaged the home, which belonged to a doctor, and Lawrence Road firefighters were on the scene for two hours.

December 31, 1976
At 12:20 a.m. on Friday, December 31, 1976, Lawrence Road’s Truck 223 was dispatched to the scene of a fire at the Capitol Plaza Shopping Center in Ewing Township to assist with smoke ejectors. The blaze started in the Mila Fabrics store and spread smoke into several adjacent stores. Engine 222 was relocated to stand by at Pennington Road’s firehouse.

1977

January 3, 1977
At 11:06 a.m. on Monday, January 3, 1977, Lawrence Road Fire Co. was dispatched Reed’s Sod Farm on Princeton Pike to assist Lawrenceville firefighters in battling a raging barn fire. Both of Lawrence Road’s Maxim engines and the Ford utility truck responded to the scene. Lawrence Road firefighters were on the scene for about 5.5 hours. During the incident, apparatus from Pennington Road and West Trenton fire companies stood by in Lawrence Road’s firehouse. An aerial photograph of the blazing barn was published in the Trenton Times on Tuesday, January 4, 1977, accompanied by the following caption: “Firemen lay hose to fight a blaze that burned most of an old cow barn and 5,000 wooden shipping pallets valued at $10,000 on the Stuart L. Reed sod farm off the old Princeton Pike in Lawrence Township yesterday. An overheated stovepipe reportedly caused the mid-morning fire as two men were working in the barn.”

January 21, 1977
Lawrence Road Firefighters Tim Kasony Sr. and John LemMon were both sent to the hospital after suffering frostbite while battling a general alarm blaze in the Benson Building at the corner of Witherspoon and Spring streets in the heart of Princeton Borough on Friday, January 21, 1977. The Lawrence Road Fire Co. was dispatched at 5:03 a.m. and responded on the mutual aid request with 20 firefighters manning both engines and the utility truck. Lawrence Road firefighters were on the scene for 9 hours. During that time, crews from Pennington Road and West Trenton stood by at Lawrence Road’s firehouse. The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Friday, January 21, 1977:

“A predawn fire that raged out of control for more than two hours today gutted two buildings and damaged portions of a third in the heart of Princeton Borough’s business district. At least seven ground-level businesses and several commercial offices on the upper floors of the Benson Building at Witherspoon and Spring Streets were burned out in the blaze. The fire was discovered at 4:10 a.m. by a PSE&G emergency crew. More than 100 firemen, including at least 25 from Trenton, battled the ire, which wiped out the Colonial Restaurant, Hills Market, the Welcome Aboard Travel Center, two art galleries, Just Hair styling shop, and insurance offices. The fire spread and gutted the Adlerman and Click insurance office at 15 Spring Street after the rear wall of the Benson Building collapsed onto the roof of the one-story building next door and smashed through the ceiling. A third building at 27 Witherspoon Street sustained light fire damage and moderate smoke and water damage when the fire leapt a four-foot alley and ignited a window frame at the side of the Urken Supply Co.

“Fire Chief Anthony Krystaponis reported the fire contained but still burning throughout the 100-by-200 foot brick Benson Building at 6:45 a.m. Firefighters continued battling flames and heavy smoke past 10 a.m. and were still extinguishing embers at 11 a.m. Nearby streets were barricaded, causing traffic congestion on spillover streets. As flames burned through the roof, steel girders bent and a large brick wall collapsed, spilling tons of rubble into Spring Street. Borough firemen laid hundred of yards of hose. They were joined by volunteers from Lawrenceville, Lawrence Road, Slackwood, Kingston, Princeton Junction, and by Trenton's Engines 1 and 9, Ladder 1 snorkel and the U-2 cascade unit…” A followup story published in the Trenton Times on Saturday, January 22, 1977, called the blaze “the worst fire in the borough’s business district since World War II, when a Nassau Street building burned down.”

The following letter, dated January 27, 1977, was received from Chief Tony Krystaponis of the Princeton Fire Department: “Dear Chief Clemen – I would like to personally like to thank you and your department for the quick response in answering our call for assistance as the January 21 fire at Witherspoon and Spring streets. The assistance offered this department was very much needed, greatly appreciated and will always be remembered. The crews responding were most cooperative and a pleasure to work with. Thank you for all you did to help us.”

February 2, 1977
On Wednesday, February 2, 1977, a major fire broke out in Falls, Pa. At 6:33 p.m. Lawrence Road’s Engine 222 was relocated to standby at Pennington Road’s firehouse while Pennington Road crews were at the blaze. At 8:17 p.m., Truck 223 was special-called to the fire scene for lights. During the incident, apparatus from Princeton stood by in Lawrence Road’s firehouse. Lawrence Road firefighters did not return to their headquarters until about 1:30 a.m. the following day. According to stories published in the Trenton Times on Thursday, February 3, 1977, the fire at the Queensgate Apartments on West Trenton Avenue near the border with Morrisville started about 4:30 p.m. in a stove. A lack of fire walls allowed flames to rapidly spread through two of the complex's three buildings. A total of 130 apartments were either destroyed or damaged by the flames and 400 people left homeless. An estimated 40 fire companies from as far away as Hightstown and Washington Township in Mercer County and Bensalem and Southampton in Bucks County fought the blaze for hours.

The following letter, dated March 17, 1977, was received from Chief David S. Shanberg of the Falls Township Fire Co.: “On behalf of the Falls Township Fire Co. I would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation to you for your assistance at the Queensgate Apartments fire on Wednesday, February 2, 1977. Without your aid a fire of this magnitude could have become a major disaster, causing the loss of many lives. Your rapid response prevented this from occurring. The numerous problems encountered, snow and freezing rain, frozen hydrants and low water pressure, may have hampered firefighting operations for a time bit with your help and expertise any devastating destruction was averted. The dedication and cooperation shown by you throughout this fire will never be forgotten. Again, please accept our heartfelt thanks. You have our praise and admiration for a job well done.”

February 16, 1977
The Nassau Diner on Route 1 was destroyed by flames on the morning of Wednesday, February 16, 1977. Lawrence Road firefighters were dispatched at 5 a.m. and remained on scene for 5.5 hours. They used 1,000 feet of 3-inch hose, 1,200 feet of 2.5-inch hose, and 300 feet of 1.5-inch hose. The following account was published in that night’s Trenton Times: “A predawn fire gutted the 130-seat Nassau Diner on Route 1 today with losses estimated by the owner at more than $200,000. Lawrence Township firemen turned out at 4:53 a.m. to battle the smoky blaze as flames burned through the roof of the 90-by-40-foot restaurant. Lawrenceville, Slackwood and Lawrence Road volunteer firemen slipped on ice and slush in the 20-degree weather as they surrounded the floodlit building. ‘It looks like is started in the kitchen and it's pretty much a total loss,’ said Slackwood Chief Rudy Fuessel.”

April 15, 1977
Lawrence Road Firefighter John LemMon used a portable extinguisher to douse a kitchen fire in the apartment at 1005 White Pine Circle on Friday, April 15, 1977. The blaze, which started in a trash can, was reported at 8:32 a.m. The following narrative was written by 2nd Assistant Chief Patrick Kent: “LemMon related that upon his arrival, fire was visible both in the area around the kitchen table and beneath same. He proceeded to extinguish the fire with a portable extinguisher. When apparatus arrived, light smoke was showing out front and rear windows. A 2.5-inch line gated to a 1.75-inch line was stretched to the front door as a precautionary measure. It was necessary to remove the sheetrock walls and ceiling in the kitchen to check for extension. Smoke ejectors were used.”

May 12, 1977
The Upper House on the campus of the Lawrenceville School was once again heavily damaged by flames on Thursday, May 12, 1977. Lawrence Road Fire Co. was dispatched at 11:44 a.m. and remained on the scene for 2 hours and 20 minutes. During the blaze, Pennington Road and West Trenton fire companies stood by for Lawrence Road. A photograph of the blaze appeared on the front page of the Trenton Times on Friday, May 13, 1977. The paper reported: “The century-old Upper House dormitory on the Lawrenceville School campus that was damaged in a midday fire yesterday should return to normal occupancy by Monday. Defective wiring in a baseboard receptacle to which a lamp pole and television set were plugged in the third floor room of Pritchard Ferguson was believed the cause of the fire. That was in Room 38 of the brick and masonry dorm where a fire in 1968 caused heavy damage. Yesterday's blaze charred Ferguson's room and sent fire through the roof. Smoke and water damaged the three floors. Slater Kirby, 18, heard the alarm at 11:39 a.m., came out of his room and smelled smoke. When he traced it to Ferguson's room he tried to fight the blaze in an upholstered chair with an extinguisher. Approximately 100 volunteers of the Lawrenceville, Lawrence Road, and Slackwood fire companies answered the alarm. Headmaster Bruce McClellan called the response ‘incredibly quick’ and said the firemen prevented more extensive damage.”

June 13, 1977

During the meeting held on Monday, June 13, 1977, the company named President Ted Clemen Sr. as “Fireman of the Year.”

July 1, 1977
A vacant building on Carter Road was destroyed by flames on Friday, July 1, 1977. The Lawrence Road Fire Co. was dispatched at 8:51 a.m. and remained on the scene for one hour. The Trenton Times published this account of the blaze in that night’s newspaper: “An empty, vandalized house on Carter Road in Lawrence Township burned to the ground today. By 8:45 a.m. when the Lawrenceville Fire Co. was sent to the five-room dwelling near Kale’s Nursery and Landscaping Service, the fire was so far along that firemen let it burn, police said. The owner, Charles Cranstoun, said he had left the 50-year-old house nine years ago. At one time he had intended to move back, he said, but vandals smashed out windows and caused other damage. The cause of the fire in under investigation.”

July 22, 1977
At 1:50 a.m. on Friday, July 22, 1977, Lawrence Road firefighters were dispatched to assist Slackwood Fire Co. at a working house fire at 2488 Princeton Pike. The blaze started on the first floor and extended to the second floor. Lawrence Road firefighters were on the scene for five hours. A ground ladder was destroyed in the blaze. The following account was published in the Trenton Times on Friday, July 22, 1977:

“Firemen struggled for more than an hour early this morning to control a stubborn fire that routed five members of a Lawrence Township family from their ranch home at 2488 Princeton Pike. A member of the Martin J. Olszak family called in the fire alarm at 1:52 a.m. At 3 a.m. firemen had the fire under control. Olszak, his wife, their two children and a relative were all treated for smoke inhalation at Helene Fuld Medical Center.

“The home sustained heavy damage from smoke, fire and water. Some family members returned to watch as firemen cut holes in the roof, knocked out windows, and battled through dense smoke seeking the source of the flames. Flames jumped back and forth between two false ceilings and the roof in the center and southern sections of the light stone-faced house. The house had two additions, according to Slackwood Chief Rudy Fuessel. A false ceiling had been added during a recent remodeling. ‘All the remodeling, false ceilings and additions made this fire a tough one to fight,’ said Fuessel. ‘When we hit the fire in one spot, it would show up somewhere else. It gave us a run for our money.’

“The fire was finally extinguished by all three township fire companies and a detachment from the Prospect Heights Fire Co. Fuessel said the blaze started in a utility area behind the kitchen and spread to an attic. After the fire was out, more than two dozen sweaty, fatigued firemen stretched out on the damp lawn and drank water.” The residents of the home, the Olszak family, sent the following letter, dated August 18, 1977: “A thank you would never express our deep gratitude and appreciation for all the work that all of you volunteers did in fighting our house fire on July 22. Due to your hard work and consideration, we were able to salvage some things of a sentimental nature money could never replace.”

August 26, 1977
A major fire broke out in Hamilton Township at the Capital City Warehouse on Industrial Drive on Friday, August 26, 1977. At 1:09 a.m. Lawrence Road’s Engine 222 was dispatched to stand by at the Slackwood firehouse. The engine was then moved up to the fire scene. Truck 223 was also dispatched to the fire scene. At the scene, Lawrence Road laid 500 feet of 4-inch hose. The following account was published in that night’s Trenton Times:

“A million dollars worth of volatile rubber and chemical products fed a spectacular fire which destroyed most of the Capitol City Warehouse in Hamilton early this morning. Bright orange flames and thick black smoke filled the sky over the far northwest section of the township as an estimated 300 firefighters from seven municipalities battled the blaze on Industrial Drive. The fire was still smoldering at 7 a.m., more than seven hours after the first of a dozen fire companies from as far away as Hightstown arrived.

“The fire started in an empty box car parked on a rail a few feet from the southwest corner of the two-story warehouse. Fire officials said flames then spread to the first floor of the 100-by-300-foot building and up a stairwell to the second floor. About 2 a.m. firefighters appeared to have the blaze contained to one section of the second floor. But the flames apparently ignited barrels of rubber and industrial chemicals and, within minutes, the entire second floor was engulfed. ‘Everybody out of the building,’ ordered Hamilton Fire Co. Chief Fred Yaede through loudspeakers shortly after 2 a.m. At 4 a.m., just as the fire was brought under control, a section of the floor caved in. The fire involved companies from Hamilton, Lawrence, Ewing, Trenton, West Windsor, Hightstown, and Washington Township...”

November 21, 1977
At 6:15 a.m. on Monday, November 21, 1977, Lawrence Road’s Engine 222 was sent to stand by for the Lawrenceville Fire Co. while they were busy at a fire on Route 31 in Hopewell Township. Lawrence Road's Truck 223 was later sent to the scene of the blaze at the Zentco Plastics warehouse north of the Pennington Circle. The following details were printed in that evening’s Trenton Times: “An early morning fire ripped through the Zentco Plastics warehouse on Route 31 in Hopewell Township early today and left half the building in ruins, police said. The fire, which broke out shortly after 5 a.m., was battled by firefighters from six companies. It was brought under control in about an hour. One firefighter reported half the building had been destroyed. A firewall in the middle of the building saved the other half from extensive damage…”


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