of firefighters from all three township companies, Slackwood, Lawrenceville
and Lawrence Road, worked for more than an hour, bringing the blaze
under control at about 9 p.m. Firefighters and equipment from Hamilton,
Pennington and Hopewell were also on the scene. The cause was under
investigation last night by township arson detectives and the Mercer
County fire marshals office, but employees working in the bar
preparation area when the fire started described a short circuit in
a light switch. Everyone was up at dinner, and I was sitting at
my station when I heard a buzzing and pop in the back, in the (bar)
prep area, said Ed Rojo, who tended bar at the event last night.
I went to see into the prep area, but nothing looked strange,
but one switch the switches for all the lights are in the back
there had a little burned area on it. I didn't think anything
of it. But from out front again the smell of smoke was getting
worse, and I checked again and looked toward the ceiling and saw smoke
coming out of it, Rojo said.
The bartender informed his manager, who sounded the fire alarm, while Rojo expended a fire extinguisher into the ceiling. Meanwhile, a maintenance worker, Jon Fiel, went around the outside of the building, where he said he saw flames coming through an exterior wall. He attacked it with an extinguisher as well. We tried, he said last night, thats all we can say. Fiel pointed to an extinguisher abandoned on the lawn. When you can see it burning on the inside, we won't be able to get it out from the outside, he said. Ray Nicosia, an ETS spokesman, said the guests were taken to Nassau Inn in Princeton Borough. About 20 years old, the Henry Chauncey Conference Center, with 100 guest and 10 meeting rooms, is located in a landscaped grove on Educational Testing Service's vast, rolling campus on the corner of Carter and Rosedale roads, Nicosia said.
responding to the fire scene I copied a radio transmission from Station
21 Capt. Michael Oakley. He reported a heavy fire and smoke condition
on Sides 1, 3 and 4, and requested that the first arriving engine lead
off with its largest water line. Upon my arrival, I observed that there
was a heavy fire condition in the rear of the structure and that it
had extended to a one-story garage on Side 4. I also noticed a one-story
section of the main structure had collapsed. I also observed two automobiles
parked in the rear of the garage with assorted propane storage tanks
in the area of the fire. I radioed Mercer County Central and advised
that the first-due engine should proceed to the front of the structure
and lead off with a 2.5-inch water line in an attempt to contain the
fire to the rear of the structure. This crew was assisted by EMT/Firefighters
from Lawrence Township's Office of Emergency Management with two 1.75-inch
water lines. In addition to this, two inactive Lawrence Road firefighters
hand carried a 3-inch supply line approximately 150 feet to a hydrant
at the corner of Drift and Emden avenues.
also advised Mercer County Central to have the second-due engine (22-2)
proceed down Craigie Avenue to the rear of the structure and to lead
off with two 1.75-inch water lines. These lines were directed to the
rear of the structure and the garage. I also advised Mercer County Central
to have the third-due engine lay a 5-inch supply line from Engine 22-2
to the corner of Eldridge and Drift avenues. After further assessment,
I radioed Mercer County Central to redirect Telesquirt 23 to the scene
and to report to the front of the structure. Station 23 was also dispatched
to the scene and all Lawrence fire stations were covered. After observing
that the fire was extending to the roof I ordered Telesquirt 23 to prepare
for an exterior attack. Also Snorkel 21 was ordered to prepare for an
exterior attack. I ordered that a 4-inch supply lain be laid from Engine
22-2 to Telesquirt 23 to supply this operation. Telesquirt 23 also supplied
Snorkel 21 with water. I also advised Mercer County Central to dispatch
Squirt 31 from Station 21 and Engine 32 from Station 22 to assist in
the exterior attack. Squirt 31 was set up in the front of the structure
near Side 2 and was supplied by Engine 22-1 with a 3-inch line. Also,
Engine 32 was told to lay a 4-inch line to the hydrant at Short Johnson
and Orchard avenues to supply Squirt 31.
After receiving a progress report from Assistant Chief 22 John Fleming that the interior attack was failing, I ordered all personnel to evacuate the building by both radio and by five blasts from Engine 22-1's air horn. After I was sure all firefighters were out of the building, I ordered Snorkel 21, Telesquirt 23 and Squirt 31 to begin an exterior attack. This knocked down the bulk of the fire in approximately 15 minutes. Overhaul then began. During overhaul I had a third automobile removed from the front of the garage. After I assessed the amount of debris from the fire and consulted with the Lawrence Township Building Inspector, I ordered a township backhoe to knock down the garage... These findings were included in the report filed by the Mercer County Fire Marshals Office: The area of origin was determined to be the rear bedroom in the one-story portion of the dwelling. Investigation of the porch area, which contained exterior storage of tires and other combustibles, show unburned areas on the surface when debris was removed, indicating a fire which spread from the dwelling to the garage, as well as from the area of origin to other portions of the dwelling. The point of origin was determined to be along the outside wall facing the porch area. Located in this area was a portable oil-filled electric heater. The fire cause appears to be electrical in nature, with a possibility that a malfunction in the portable heating units was the cause.
following account of the fire at 74 Lawn Park Avenue was printed in
the Trenton Times on Thursday, June 24, 1993: A woman cradling
her 13-year-old disabled foster son collapsed while trying to escape
from a fast-moving fire at their home early yesterday, but rescue workers
braved heavy smoke and flames and saved them. The boy, Mahesh Reaves,
and his foster mother, Damingo Brown, 63, escaped death only because
police and firefighters were able to carry the unconscious pair from
a rear, ground-floor bedroom of their Lawn Park Avenue home, officials
said. Reaves, who has cerebral palsy and is very small for his age,
uses a wheelchair. He was flown by helicopter to the burn center of
Crozer Chester Medical Center in Upland, Pa., where he was listed in
critical condition last night, suffering from smoke inhalation and second-degree
burns to his feet and legs, police said. Brown suffered smoke inhalation
and was hospitalized in stable condition last night. If they had
been in there for several more minutes, I don't think they would have
stood any chance at all, said Fire Chief Pat Quill of Lawrence
Road Fire Co.
others who live with Brown got out of the home on their own or through
neighbors help. They include two other foster children, who also
are mentally or physically disabled, two adopted children, an elderly
woman who was being cared for in the home, and James Long, 22, who had
completed a foster program, but was staying at the house to help Brown
care for Reaves. Brown spoke about the fire yesterday afternoon from
her hospital bed at Helene Fuld Medical Center. She said she was asleep
when the fire broke out shortly before 5 a.m. in the bedroom where Reaves,
Long and another child slept. She refers to Reaves affectionately as
the baby. When my 7-year-old woke me up, I heard the
fire alarms. They were working, but they weren't very loud, she
said. I ran and got the children out. Then the smoke started.
I gave the baby (Reaves) to James. He went to my bedroom rather than
taking him to the door. I was to the door when I realized I had to go
back. I took the baby, and thats when I blacked out.
Chief Quill said the fire, which was reported by neighbors, appeared
to have been sparked by an electrical extension cord in Reaves
bedroom. Patrolman Michael Smith suffered smoke inhalation when he climbed
through the rear window and pulled Brown out with the help of neighbors.
Reaves was rescued minutes later from the same bedroom by Firefighter
Joe Toth, but by then the blaze had worsened and the youngster could
not even be seen. Quill, who was the first firefighter on the scene,
said he tried to get to them through the front door, but managed to
get only about half-way before he was completely beaten back
by fire and smoke. One of Browns foster sons, Jerome Miller, 12,
said he was asleep on the couch when, David Luke Brown, 7, one of the
adopted sons, awoke him. The fire was up to the ceiling and the
windows were breaking out, said Jerome. We were scared.
Mom was trying to get Mahesh, but she fell and said she was having trouble
breathing. Jerome said Jimmy Long was grabbing the kids and taking
them outside, and yelling for everybody to get of the house. Long suffered
second-degree burns to his arms trying to bring Reaves and Brown out,
police said. Henry Vance, who lives next door, said he awoke when a
crying James Long banged on his door, yelling, I cant get
my mom out of the fire.
said just then a window in the Brown house exploded, sending glass,
flames and smoke into the yard. Vance said he and another neighbor,
Larry Cotton, raced to the Brown house and kicked the front door open.
The two went into the house and found one of Brown's foster sons and
brought him out. They went back in to look for Brown, but had to leave
because they couldnt see or breathe. The two, joined by Patrolman
Smith, ran to the back and broke out the bedroom window. Smith, who
went into the bedroom, dragged Brown to the window, and Cotton and Vance
helped her out. Toth then entered, found Reaves, and took him out. After
being thanked yesterday by one of Browns relatives, Vance said,
Hey, were neighbors. I know if that was my mom in there
I would want you to do the same thing. Asked if he felt heroic,
Cotton echoed Vances remarks, saying, No praise in order;
neighbor's are supposed to look out for each other. Smith was
treated at Helene Fuld Medical Center and was released. Long was also
in stable condition yesterday at Helene Fuld Medical Center. Dorothy
Salander, the elderly woman being cared for at the house, was treated
for minor smoke inhalation and released
Trenton Times also published a second story on the fire at 74 Lawn Park
Avenue on Thursday, June 24, 1993: Damingo Brown is known throughout
her Eldridge Park neighborhood as a woman who cares about disabled children
and gets involved. Yesterday a township patrolman who grew up in her
neighborhood got a chance to do something for her he saved her
from a devastating fire. When Patrolman Michael Smith, 33, arrived at
Browns home in the first block of Lawn Park Avenue, he saw flames
shooting out the rear. Neighbors, who had already tried to get inside
and save Brown and her 13-year-old foster son, Mahesh Reaves, who has
cerebral palsy, told the officer the two were trapped inside. Smith
and the neighbors raced to the rear of the house and broke out a window
to get into the bedroom. Without any protective gear or even an air
tank, Smith climbed into the bedroom to find Brown. I couldnt
see anything at all because of the smoke. I used my flashlight and I
could see some shadows. Then I saw Mrs. Brown's hand, she was in the
middle of the room unconscious, Smith said.
Only able to breathe for about 30 seconds before having to go back to the window for air, Smith said it took him four tries to pull Brown onto a bed and hoist her partially out the window. The neighbors lifted her the rest of the way out. I know if I hadn't gone in, she wouldnt have made it, Smith said. Following Smith into the room was Lawrence Road Firefighter Joe Toth who, equipped with an air tank and protective clothing, was able to find Reaves and bring him out. Visibility was very, very poor and there was a lot of heat. I couldnt see anything. I just resorted to my fire training and searched by hand until I found him, Toth said. Toth handed the boy out the window to Firefighters John Britton and Jim Pidcock. (Editors Note: This is incorrect. Britton and Pidcock were in another part of the fire building with a handline at the time Toth was making the rescue). Firefighter Tim Kasony performed CPR. Toth said there was a lot of anxiety until the two were located and brought out. Neighbors were very concerned for their welfare, he noted. Toth, who has two young children, said he will only feel happy when Reaves comes home healthy. It does get to you, especially when its a child involved, he said. Smith saw Brown briefly later at Helene Fuld Medical Center. She remembered me as the man who pulled her out of the fire I dont know if she remembered me from the neighborhood. She was very appreciative, Smith said.
Lawrence warehouse was set ablaze early yesterday morning after being
struck by lightning as violent storms tore through the region, leaving
thousands of residents without power. The lightning strike was reported
shortly before 4 a.m. when Lawrence Road Volunteer Fire Co. Chief Patrick
Quill spotted the fire while checking an alarm malfunction at another
building across Eggert Road where the warehouse is located. The warehouse,
owned by Mrs. G's Appliance Store, hasnt been used for several
years, officials said. About one quarter of the building was heavily
damaged by fire, said Lawrence Police Detective Kevin Reading.
The remainder was damaged by heat and water. All three township
fire companies fought the fire, which had been burning for a while before
it was discovered. It was under control by 5 a.m., Reading said. No
serious injuries were reported.
Throughout the rest of the county and state, lightning mainly wreaked havoc on power lines. In Mercer County, between 500 and 600 customers lost power yesterday morning, said PSE&G spokesman Frank Centore. The outages happened between midnight and 6 a.m. yesterday, and lasted anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours. Given the amount of lightning strikes, I think we got away lucky, Centore said. Jersey Central Power & Light spokesperson Donna Nowcid said 8,000 customers were without power statewide as crews worked all night to restore most of the power by 9 a.m. yesterday. Nearly 5,000 of the customers affected live in Monmouth and Ocean counties, Nowcid said. Across the state border, Lower Bucks County was especially hard hit, said Philadelphia Electric Co. spokesperson Mike Wood. The PECO service area had 39,000 outages through three waves of thundershowers, with 15,000 of the outages in Bucks County, Wood said. The first storm hit the area around 10:30 p.m. Thursday, Wood said, ending around midnight. The second wave came in shortly after 1 a.m. Friday, with the third following about two hours later. Throughout Bucks County, Wood said, there were lightning strikes which felled tree limbs and power wires.
June 27, 1994
fire at the abandoned Saturn Chemical Co. plant sent a pillar of black
smoke hundreds of feet into the air above the Route 1 Freeway yesterday
evening, but there were no injuries and the blaze was confined to one
old garage building. The fire destroyed most of the roof of the one-story
building and some of the walls of the building, which was a storage
garage of the chemical plant, which was abandoned after a fire swept
through much of the property in 1981. Yesterday's blaze is labeled suspicious
by fire authorities.
from Lawrence, Ewing and Hamilton sprayed water the fire from aerial
hoses and snorkel trucks, and brought the blaze under control by about
8:30 p.m. Unlike the 1981 incident, residents of the nearby Colonial
Heights neighborhood did not have to be evacuated, and there never appeared
to be any danger of the fire spreading. Despite its spectacular plume
of smoke, the fire consisted mostly of a combination of wood and tar,
said Michael Oakley, captain of the Lawrences Slackwood Fire Co.,
which led the firefighting efforts. Oakley said that, as an assistant
fire marshal, he has visited the site numerous times, and concluded
that there were no combustible chemicals at the site. Still, as a precaution,
he called in the Trenton Fire Departments Hazardous Materials
team as backup, he said. Oakley and other observers said the site, located
between New York Avenue and the Delaware and Raritan Canal, attracts
vagrants and groups of youths who sometimes set small trash fires.
The fire broke out at approximately 7 p.m., and was mostly contained by 8:30 p.m. Gary Saretzki, president of the Colonial Heights Civic Association, said his neighborhood is concerned both about the abandoned buildings and contaminated soil at the site. A tax lien was placed upon the 5.3-acre property after it was abandoned, but the township has not taken ownership. It is, however, taking some steps to determine the scope of the environmental damage and the cost of a possible cleanup, he said. The plant adjacent to the where the fire occurred is owned by Hydrocarbon Research Co. (HRI), an energy research firm. The refinery-like building is visible to many passing motorists on the Freeway. But none of its buildings were affected by yesterdays blaze. Saretzki said HRI has been a very good neighbor, cleaning up the contamination it inherited. Yesterday, a guard at the entrance to HRI said that the complex functions around the clock, and did not shut down during the course of the fire.
The normally quiet campus of the Lawrenceville School was awash in flashing red emergency lights last night as a fire burned out much of the inside of a little-used storage building located in the back section of the sprawling grounds. No one was inside the two-story structure, known as the Mason building, when it caught fire just before 7 p.m. last night. Firefighters from Lawrence, Pennington and Hamilton quickly arrived to douse the flames, but the fire kept burning within the wood walls, which were covered by a fake brick facade. The second floor of the building was gutted, and part of the floor collapsed into the first story, firefighters said. A number of firefighters had to be treated for heat exhaustion after hacking away at the walls with their axes, trying to reach fires hidden within the walls, which stubbornly burned on for about two hours. An administrator at the school, who asked not to be identified, said the building was used to store old furniture and some groundskeeping equipment. Though he didn't yet know the caused of the blaze, he emphasized that all buildings on the campus are kept up to fire code standards. In addition, he noted there were no dormitories or classroom buildings in the area. Its probably the most distant and most obscure building on campus, he said. Some firefighters at the scene speculated that the cause was an electrical problem, but fire officials said the cause had yet to be determined and is under investigation by the county fire marshal.
man who apparently lived in his $300,000 town house without electricity
for more than a year suffered minor burns in a fire sparked early yesterday
morning by a candle he was using for light, neighbors and borough officials
said. The Sergeant Street blaze, which gutted the home of Kenneth Gehner,
also caused severe smoke and water damage to the attached town homes
to either side and forced the evacuation of residents in all eight units
in the upscale complex. Gehner, 50, suffered first- and second-degree
burns to his hands arms and face and was treated at the Medical Center
at Princeton and released, borough police Capt. Peter Hanley said.
an odd twist, Gehner was again rushed to the hospital yesterday after
he was found incapacitated just before 11 a.m. on Nassau Street near
Palmer Square, Hanley said. Hanley said he could not be sure what was
wrong with Gehner but he may have suffered a stroke or some kind of
a seizure. He was listed in fair condition in the Medical Center at
Princeton last night. Residents of the complex said yesterday that they
had assumed Gehners home, the second from the right end of the
complex, was vacant, because they had not seen anyone coming or going
from it for some time. However, investigators believe Gehner, who bought
the home when it was first built in the early 1980s, has been living
there all along, Hanley said. A Public Service Electric & Gas spokesman
said electricity to Gehners home had been cut off in April 1993
because of a past due bill of more than $500. The utility has never
been contacted by Gehner, and the bill was turned over to a collection
agency in July 1993, the spokesman said.
Fire officials said water service to the home had also been cut off. Borough fire fighters received the call for the blaze shortly before midnight, according to Assistant Chief Dave Bogle. We found the second unit from the end completely involved, Bogle said. You couldnt even see it, there was so much fire. The three Princeton volunteer fire companies called in help from neighboring municipalities because the fire was going strong in the midst of an eight-unit complex and there were fears that it would spread, Bogle said. However, the fire walls between the units functioned as they are supposed to and kept the fire from spreading, he said. We were able to attack the fire from the outside and pretty well knock it down in about an hour and a half, or so, Bogle said. Bogle said Gehner had apparently awakened on a burning couch in his living room. As of yesterday evening, the four units on Gehners end of the complex were uninhabitable, Bogle said. The remaining residents were only awaiting restoration of electricity before going back to their homes, he said. Gehners background was largely a mystery yesterday and neither police nor neighbors knew if or where he is employed. Hanley said the police investigation ended once the fire was ruled accidental.
A small but suspicious fire damaged part of a two-story house and forced the evacuation of an entire family last night, fire and police officials said. The blaze in the 300 block of Eggerts Crossing Road was reported at 9:28 p.m., when residents discovered flames in an upstairs room. An attempt to douse the fire with a bucket of water proved unsuccessful, officials said. A smoky haze surrounded the house as township firefighters arrived on the scene, minutes after the alarm. When we pulled up, smoke was showing from all the windows on the upper floor of the house, Chief Patrick F. Quill of the Lawrence Road Fire Co. said. We made a quick interior attack and were able to knock most of the fire down in a couple of minutes. The fire, which investigators believe started on a bed mattress, was contained to a single room on the second floor. There was limited smoke and water damage to other parts of the house. Firefighters used salvage tarps to protect most of the home's valuables. Police removed one man from the scene in handcuffs, but the arresting officers could not be reached last night to say if any charges had been filed. No one was injured in the fire, but an elderly resident was assisted from the home by family members and firefighters. Township police said they have ruled the fire suspicious and are investigating with help of the Mercer County Prosecutors Office and county fire marshals office.
small but smoky fire that damaged a Johnson Avenue home and sent an
elderly woman to the hospital early yesterday has been ruled suspicious
by investigators. Firefighters rescued June Gibson, said to be in her
60s, from her home in the 200 block of Johnson Avenue and transported
her to Mercer Medical Center in Trenton. She was treated for smoke inhalation
and later released, officials said. The fire was discovered around 12:39
a.m. and crews from the Lawrence Road and Slackwood fire companies were
on the scene in two minutes. The residents were just coming out
when we arrived. There was smoke coming from the kitchen window on the
first floor, said Lawrence Road Chief Patrick F. Quill. Then
we were told there was still someone inside, Quill said. Lawrence
Road Lt. James Pidcock and firefighters Chris Longo and Larry Hoffman
entered the smoke-laden home carrying a hose and found a small sofa
bed wedged into the doorway between the kitchen and a rear bedroom.
It was burning and giving off a lot of smoke, Quill said.
As they attacked the fire, the firefighters pulled the sofa out of the doorway and found Gibson in the bedroom. She had been trapped in the room, unable to get past the sofa jammed in the doorway, Quill said. Gibson had inhaled a lot of smoke and was barely conscious when pulled to safety, officials said. The fire is believed to have started in the bedroom on the sofa. The residents attempted to douse the fire with buckets of water and were trying to remove the sofa from the home when it stuck in the door. In the confusion, Gibson was left behind, officials said. Quill said the fire was quickly extinguished and damage was limited to the bedroom and kitchen, but there was minor smoke damage through the entire home. Township police, a fire inspector, the Mercer County fire marshal and the county prosecutor's office are investigating. A preliminary ruling determined the fire to be suspicious, but officials said they could not comment further until their investigation was completed.
firefighters and equipment were summoned to assist in the attack, quickly
escalating the fire to four alarms, Erney said. Crews using hose lines
were able to prevent the fire from spreading to a large portion of the
building, and aerial firefighting equipment was raised above the building
to pour water down into the fire. Police had to close most of Spruce
Street so firefighters could lay 5-inch hoses to a fire hydrant near
Princeton Avenue to meet the urgent demand for water. The fire was declared
under control just after 4 p.m., but fire crews remained at the scene
until 7 p.m. to extinguish smoldering embers and hidden pockets of fire.
When the smoke finally cleared and the fire was out, nearly half of
the 300-by-100 foot warehouse was gutted. The front half of the building
was a burned out shell. Erney attributed the rapid spread of fire to
the buildings contents. It was full of storage containers
and cardboard boxes. It was all fuel for the fire, he said.
said the building once housed an automotive shop. It then was converted
to offices, but soon fell vacant. Erney said there have been two or
three small fires around the outside of the building in the recent months.
Police were trying last night to contact the owner of the building,
Michael Healy, whose last known address was in Sea Girt. Officials said
the building was being cared for by a local real estate agency and was
slated to be auctioned off sometime next week. Attempts to contact the
agency were also unsuccessful last night.
Township police and fire inspectors, the Mercer County fire marshal, the state police arson investigation unit, and the Mercer County Prosecutors Office were called in last night to investigate the fire. Officials termed the fire suspicious. All three Ewing township fire companies Prospect Heights, Pennington Road and West Trenton battled the blaze. They were assisted by members of the Slackwood, Lawrence Road, and Lawrenceville fire companies from Lawrence, the Pennington Fire Co. from Pennington Borough, and the Enterprise Fire Co. from Hamilton. Additional companies from Hamilton and Hopewell sent firefighters and engines to stand by in Ewing's three fire stations in case of another fire call.