History 1993-1994

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1993

February 6, 1993
A chimney fire occurred on Saturday, February 6, 1993, at 168 Oaklyn Terrace. Lawrence Road firefighters were alerted to the blaze at 6:36 p.m. Firefighters arrived to find that a fire at the top of the chimney had burned the chimney cover and some debris inside the chimney itself. The fire, which occurred with several inches of snow on the ground, was extinguished with a 1.75 inch handline. Engine 23-4 assisted at the scene. The township health inspector was notified of a hazardous condition inside the dwelling (including newspapers and other rubbish stacked from floor to ceiling). Lawrence Road firefighters cleared the scene by 8:42 p.m.

February 12, 1993
A hazardous materials incident occurred at Lawrence High School in the early morning hours of Friday, February 12, 1993. The problem was created when an injector pump broke and spilled approximately 20 gallons of liquid chlorine in the school’s swimming pool pump room. Lawrence Road firefighters were alerted to the incident at 12:36 a.m. and Chief Patrick Quill requested a mutual aid response from Hamilton HazMat (Station 10) and the Trenton Fire Department’s Task Force 1. Upon the recommendation of the HazMat technicians, Lawrence Road firefighters flooded the pump room with about 500 gallons of water to dilute the chlorine. Lawrence Road crews were on the scene until about 2:26 a.m.

February 14, 1993
At 2:07 p.m. on Sunday, February 14, 1993 (the day after the fire company’s annual dinner/dance party), Lawrence Road firefighters were dispatched to a structure fire at 976 Lawrence Road, a large two-story dwelling occupied by several nuns from the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. The following narrative was written in the incident report by Chief Patrick Quill: “Upon arrival on scene, Captain Richard Farletta reported smoke showing throughout the second floor. Entry was made through the front door with a 1.75-inch water line. The fire was contained to a second floor front bedroom and its contents, with light fire damage to the room’s ceiling joists. The remainder of the dwelling sustained moderate smoke damage throughout. Capt. Farletta also reported the burned contents of the fire room were removed by firefighters to the outside driveway. Room contents included an undetermined amount of money. The cash that was recovered was turned over by Capt. Ken Kandrac to Chief Patrick Quill. The money was returned to the occupant in the presence of Lawrence Township police. After the fire was extinguished, occupants of the home were interviewed and it was determined that discarded smoking materials were the cause of the fire. It was also determined that one occupant sustained smoke inhalation while attempting to put out the fire before the arrival of the fire company. This occupant was later transported to Princeton Medical Center by the Lawrence Township First Aid Squad. Station 22 was assisted by two engines from Station 21. Station 23 covered Station 22.”

March 26, 1993
A structure fire was reported at 3:52 a.m. on Friday, March 26, 1993. The blaze originated in a metal utility shed (containing a boiler and hot water heater) attached to the rear of the dwelling at 95 Northbrook Avenue. The cause of the fire was determined to be an overheated flue pipe that ignited Homasote board in a rear corner of the shed. The fire engulfed the shed and extended into the rear wall of the neighboring dwelling. The interior of the home sustained heat, smoke and water damage. Lawrence Road firefighters, assisted by two engine crews from the Slackwood Fire Co., extinguished the blaze with 1.75-inch handlines. Lawrence Road firefighters were on the scene, participating in salvage and overhaul operations, under about 6:30 a.m.

April 18, 1993
Lawrence Road Deputy Chief Patrick Kent was injured when a plate glass window fell and sliced a deep cut in his lip and face while he was operating at the scene of a working fire in the Chauncey Conference Center on the grounds of the Education Testing Service off Carter Road on Sunday, April 18, 1993. Station 22 was dispatched at 7:05 p.m. to assist the Lawrenceville Fire Co. Lawrence Road firefighters operated both on the roof cutting ventilation holes and inside the structure attacking the flames. Lawrence Road crews were on the scene until about 10:30 p.m. The Trenton Times published this account of the blaze on Monday, April 19, 1993:


“A wing of Educational Testing Service’s Chauncey Conference Center was damaged by flame and smoke in a blaze just after 7 last night. The fire was confined to the west wing of the center, containing four meeting rooms and a bar, from which a group of 22 guests had just retired to sit down for dinner in the adjacent south wing, witnesses said. The guests and 10 employees left the building safely after workers sounded a fire alarm when smoke was detected in the ceiling of the bar area, officials and witnesses said. A firefighter, Deputy Chief Pat Kent of Lawrence Road Fire Co., was taken to The Medical Center at Princeton for treatment of a cut on his mouth, police said. Several firefighters were also checked out by an ambulance crew on the scene.

“Scores 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 marshal’s 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, ‘that’s 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.”

May 2, 1993
The home of Lawrence Road Firefighter Tim Kasony Sr. and family at 16 Forrest Avenue caught fire for the third time in the early hours of Sunday, May 2, 1993. The fire originated in a kitchen wall behind a toaster oven that had been left turned on after a chicken pot pie was cooked in it. Lawrence Road firefighters received the alarm at 2:24 a.m. Lawrence Road firefighters, who were assisted by two engine crews from Slackwood Fire Co., were on the scene until 4:50 a.m. The following details were included in the incident report written by Chief Patrick Quill: “…There was a heavy smoke condition on the first floor of the structure and a light smoke condition on the remaining floors. Upon entry to the kitchen of the home, I found a fire condition in the kitchen cabinet area. The fire was knocked down quickly with a 1.75-inch water line and was contained to that area. During the overhaul of the fire area, a portion of the kitchen cabinets, kitchen floor, and walls had to be removed to check for further fire extension…” Firefighter Tim Kasony Sr. suffered a minor chest injury when, during an attempt to fight the fire, he fell from a rear porch. (Editor’s Note: The two earlier fires at the Kasony home both occurred on July 10, 1986)

June 4, 1993
The house at 15 Emden Avenue was destroyed by fire on Friday, June 4, 1993. The Lawrence Road and Slackwood fire companies were dispatched at 1:15 p.m. and firefighters were on scene until 7 p.m. Lawrence Road Capt. Ken Kandrac suffered a leg injury during the fire. The following narrative was written on the incident report by Chief Patrick Quill:

“While 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.

“I 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 Marshal’s 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.”

June 23, 1993
Lawrence Road firefighters made a dramatic rescue during a raging house fire at 74 Lawn Park Avenue in the early morning hours of Wednesday, June 23, 1993. The blaze was sparked by a faulty extension cord. Lawrence Road and Slackwood firefighters received the alarm at 4:53 a.m. Chief Patrick Quill arrived at 4:56 a.m. to find the rear bedroom and hallway of the two-story house fully-involved in flames with residents reporting that two people (a woman and her 13-year-old foster child suffering from cerebral palsy) were trapped inside. Engine 22-1 signed on radio at 4:57 a.m., followed one minute later by Engine 22-3. Both victims were located in a rear bedroom adjacent to the bedroom where the fire started. Lawrence Township police Patrolman Michael Smith managed to rescue the woman, Damingo Brown. Lawrence Road Firefighter Joe Toth II, having gained access through a rear window, found the other victim, a 13-year-old boy, and handed him through the window to Assistant Chief John Fleming. Firefighter Tim Kasony Sr. then revived the boy with CPR. A pair of 1.75-inch handlines was used to extinguish the blaze. The fire was declared under control by Chief 22 at 5:47 a.m. (Editor’s Note: Toth was later honored with a Valor Award by the NewJersey State Fire Chief’s Association. The award was presented on June 11, 1994, at the Delaware Gardens firehouse in Pennsauken.)

The 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.

“Seven 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 that’s when I blacked out.’

“Fire 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 Brown’s 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 can’t get my mom out of the fire.’

“Vance 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 couldn’t 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 Brown’s relatives, Vance said, ‘Hey, we’re 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 Vance’s 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…”

The 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 Brown’s 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 couldn’t 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 wouldn’t 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 couldn’t 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. (Editor’s 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 it’s 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 don’t know if she remembered me from the neighborhood. She was very appreciative,’ Smith said.”

September 10, 1993
A fierce thunderstorm set off the fire alarm system at the Lawrence Neighborhood Center at 295 Eggerts Crossing Road at 12:48 a.m. on Friday, September 10, 1993. The alarm again activated around 3:10 a.m. While he was on the scene checking out the alarm, Lawrence Road Chief Patrick Quill happened to glance across to the other side of Eggerts Crossing Road and spotted heavy fire consuming part of the old Mrs. G’s warehouse. Lightning was blamed for starting the fire. Quill sounded the alarm at 3:56 a.m. and Lawrence Road firefighters were on the scene until 7:36 a.m. The Trenton Times documented the blaze with this story published on Saturday, September 11, 1993:

“A 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, hasn’t 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.”

September-December 1993
From September through December 1993, Lawrence Road Firefighter Michael Ratcliffe spent a semester at the University of London in England. During that time, he rode to several dozen fires from the Bethnal Green Fire Station of the London Fire Brigade. As a result of that stay in England, several London firefighters have visited the Lawrence Road Fire Co. on their vacations and have actually assisted at a handful of fires in Lawrence Township.

October 3, 1993
At 3:14 p.m. on Sunday, October 3, 1993, the Lawrence Road Fire Co. was dispatched to assist Station 23 personnel fight a working fire at 212 Federal City Road. Lawrence Road firefighters laid a 5-inch supply line to Telesquirt 23 and then assisted in attacking the fire with a 1.75-inch handline. An engine from Station 22 also stood by at the Lawrenceville fire house during the incident. The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Monday, October 4, 1993: “A small fire destroyed the kitchen and breakfast nook of a new home in the Lawrenceville Green complex yesterday afternoon. No one was in the house when the fire started and no one was injured, said Lawrenceville Fire Co. Chief Kevin Reading. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, though it is not considered suspicious. Slackwood and Lawrence Road fire companies assisted.”

October 24, 1993
McGuinn’s bar was the scene of a structure fire on the afternoon of Sunday, October 24, 1993. Lawrence Road firefighters, who were dispatched at 5:14 p.m. and operated on scene until 7:28 p.m., moved in with a 1.75-inch handline and helped pull several Slackwood firefighters from the building after a section of the ceiling collapsed on top of them. The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Monday, October 25, 1993: “A quick-moving fire yesterday evening gutted McGuinn’s Place, a Lawrence landmark since the 1930s and a popular watering hole for Rider College students and locals. As owner Judy McGuinn, flanked by family and friends, watched in tears from the street, the fire spread from the back wall of the tavern until it had gutted the rear half of the building. Ironically, the roof, much of which had to be cut away by firefighters, had been replaced about three months ago, employees said. Firefighters from the Slackwood Fire Co., assisted by the Lawrence Road and Lawrenceville fire companies, needed about an hour to bring the fire under control. The fire was contained to the rear of the building, though smoke billowed out of the brickface front and could be seen for miles. Employees said they were working at around 5:15 p.m. when they smelled smoke in the back of the restaurant. When they went to look, they saw smoke coming from inside the wall in the ladies’ restroom, they said. At first they thought they could put the fire out with an extinguisher but the blaze spread through the wall quickly and the fire employees and five patrons had to leave...”

1994

January 15, 1994
At 7:23 a.m. on Saturday, January 15, 1994, Lawrence Road firefighters were dispatched mutual aid to Bucks County, Pa., for relief purposes on a multiple alarm blaze on Coleman Avenue. The fire, which was reported about 1:15 a.m., destroyed a row of eight houses. Lawrence Road firefighters, working in the bitter cold, assisted in salvage and overhaul at the scene. Lawrence Road firefighters returned to Station 22 at noon.

January 22, 1994
Engine 22-3 was involved in a motor vehicle accident while responding to the scene of a working fire in Ewing Township on Saturday, January 22, 1994. The incident began at 10:47 p.m. when Engine 22-3 was dispatched to stand by at the Pennington Road firehouse while Ewing firefighters operated at a structure fire on Heath Street. A short time later, Engine 22-3 was ordered to respond to the fireground. As the apparatus left Station 32, with its warning lights and siren on, it was struck near the rear wheels on the driver's side by a civilian car. The driver of the car was allegedly intoxicated and drove around other vehicles that had stopped for the engine. Damage to the apparatus was not too severe but later required some body work and painting. Driving Engine 22-3 was Firefighter Larry Hoffman. The crew consisted of Capt. John Britton and Firefighters Michael Ralph and Andrew Fosina. Pennington Road Firefighter Jim Minch was also on the engine serving as a pilot. Engine 22-3 was placed out of service at that time. Ewing police investigated the accident and the civilian was later charged with causing the crash. Engine 22-3 did not return to Station 22 until 1:23 a.m.

June 27, 1994
At 10:28 a.m. on Monday, June 27, 1994, Lawrence Road firefighters were dispatched to stand by at Station 23 while Lawrenceville Fire Co. was at a chemical spill in Quaker Bridge Mall. At 10:49 a.m., Engines 22-1 and 22-3 responded to the scene on the second alarm to assist with cascade and ventilation operations. Station 22 was covered by an engine from Pennington Road Fire Co. during the incident, which lasted until 1 p.m. The following story was printed in the Trenton Times on Tuesday, June 28, 1994: “A lifeguard at the Bally’s Holiday Spa in the Quaker Bridge Mall was slightly injured yesterday morning when he mistook a container of acid for pool chlorine, police said. Michael Law, 22, was mixing the chemical with water in a five-gallon bucket shortly before 10 a.m. when the concoction gave off noxious fumes, Detective Raymond Britton said. Law was not seriously injured, but the fumes irritated his eyes, nose and throat, and he was taken to Helene Fuld Medical Center as a precautionary measure, Britton said. No one else was injured, Britton said. A spokeswoman for the hospital said Law was treated and released. The health club was evacuated and shut down following the accident because fumes from the chemical reaction seeped into workout areas on the second floor, according to a man who identified himself as the club’s manager but declined to give his name. Several Lawrence fire companies and the Hamilton Township Hazardous Materials Team responded to the mall and roped off a corner of the shopping Center’s parking lot near the Macy’s entrance. Members of the hazardous materials team dressed in bulky, white protective outfits before entering the spa to assess the situation and clean up the area. The club and pool reopened at 3 p.m., according to a receptionist.”

August 18, 1994
On Thursday, August 18, 1994, the Lawrence Road Fire Co. responded to an electrical fire at the Lawrence Middle School. The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Saturday, August 20, 1994: “A serious fire was averted Thursday night after custodians working late in a township school smelled smoke in a classroom and promptly notified authorities, fire officials said. Two township fire companies were called to Lawrence Middle School on Princeton Pike shortly after 11 p.m. Thursday when workers there discovered a slight haze and the smell of burning in one of the rooms, Chief Patrick F. Quill of Lawrence Road Fire Co. said. Firefighters quickly traced the problem to a heating unit in the room, Quill said. The unit, designed to run off of 220 volts, had been improperly wired with a 110-volt plug and had started to burn. ‘It could have been far worse,’ Quill said, citing workers at the school as instrumental in preventing a major incident. ‘If they hadn't been there, the fire could have smoldered for hours before it was discovered. By then it would have been too late,’ Quill said.”

July 23, 1994
On Saturday, July 23, 1994, lightning struck the house at 343 Glenn Avenue and started a fire inside an attached garage. Lawrence Road Fire Co. was dispatched to assist Slackwood firefighters. When Slackwood Deputy Chief Jack Oakley arrived on the scene, he reported light smoke showing from the garage. Engine 22-3 was the first engine on the scene and its crew contained the flames to the garage area.

July 30, 1994
In the early morning hours of Saturday, July 30, 1994, an engine from Station 22 was dispatched mutual aid to Hamilton Township to stand by at Station 17 while Nottingham firefighters helped coordinate a massive search for 7-year-old Megan Kanka, who was missing from her home on Barbara Lee Drive. The Lawrence Road engine was later moved into a staging area at Station 12 and then participated in the search of the Hamilton Square neighborhood. It was learned later that day that the girl had been raped and murdered by a neighbor. Her body was found in Mercer County Park. Her killer, Jesse Timmendequas, was later convicted and sentenced to death.

August 30, 1994
While Lawrence Road firefighters were in the middle of taking a CPR training class in the firehouse, their pagers activated alerting them to a working structure fire on the grounds of the abandoned Saturn Chemical Co. on New York Avenue on Tuesday, August 30, 1994. Firefighters arrived to find the building, measuring about 100-by-250 feet, fully involved. Firefighters spent several minutes shoveling away mounds of dirt and debris at the entrance to the site to allow apparatus access to the fire building. Mater streams were set up on the Saturn Chemical property and on nearby Route 1. The Trenton Times documented the blaze with this story published on Wednesday, August 31, 1994:

“A 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.

“Firefighters 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 Lawrence’s 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 Department’s 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 yesterday’s 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.”

September 13, 1994
On Tuesday, September 13, 1994, the Lawrence Road Fire Co. conducted a live-burn drill at the county fire school. Participating as guests of the fire company at the drill were four firefighters from the London Fire Brigade from England: Matt Zarych, Peter Burley, Mark Stay, and Mick Geraghty. Prior to the drill, the London firefighters responded with Station 22 personnel to a careless cooking incident at 44 Lawrencia Drive.

September 15, 1994
The Mason building on the campus of the Lawrenceville School was destroyed by fire on the night of Thursday, September 15, 1994, on the eve of the New Jersey State Firemen’s Convention in Wildwood. Lawrence Road firefighters had just finished checking a fire alarm at the Lawrence Intermediate School on Eggerts Crossing Road when the call was transmitted for the structure fire. Engine 22-3 arrived and led off with a 1.75-inch handline to attack the flames. Meanwhile, Engine 22-2 laid 1,000 feet of 4-inch hose to supply Telesquirt 23. Engine 22-1 and Special Services 22 responded with extra manpower. The Trenton Times printed this account of the blaze on Friday, September 16, 1994:

“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. ‘It’s 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.”

September 22, 1994
On Thursday, September 22, 1994, Engine 22-3 was dispatched mutual aid to Princeton Borough to assist in salvage and overhaul at the scene of a multiple-alarm fire in a large townhouse building. The following account was printed in the Trenton Times on Friday, September 23, 1994:

“A 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.

“In 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 Gehner’s 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 Gehner’s 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 couldn’t 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 Gehner’s 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. Gehner’s 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.”

September 29, 1994
At 9:29 p.m. on Thursday, September 29, 1994, Station 22 was dispatched to a structure fire at 326 Eggerts Crossing Road. Engine 22-1 signed on radio at 9:29 p.m., followed one minute later by Engine 22-3, and by Engine 22-2 at 9:32 p.m. Firefighters arrived to find flames inside a second-floor bedroom. The blaze was declared under control by Chief Patrick Quill at 9:50 p.m. Lawrenceville Fire Co. assisted on the scene, while an engine from Slackwood Fire Co. stood by at Station 22. This account was printed in the Trenton Times on Friday, September 30, 1994:

“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 Prosecutor’s Office and county fire marshal’s office.”

October 22, 1994
Lawrence Road Capt. John Britton reported a fire on Gedney Road on the afternoon of Saturday, October 22, 1994. This story was published in the Trenton Times on Sunday, October 23, 1994: “A serious fire was narrowly averted yesterday due to an alert firefighter, fire officials said. The fire was discovered in a house in the 100 block of Gedney Road around 2:40 p.m. by Lawrence Road Fire Co. Capt. John Britton, who was working next door at his parents’ house, fire officials said. ‘I smelled smoke in the area for about half an hour,’ Britton said. ‘I walked over, but no one was home. Then I went all around the yard and the house, but I didn't see anything.’ Britton said he heard a smoke detector sounding from somewhere inside. ‘The odor was strongest there. It was a very acrid smell. I knew something was burning,’ he said. Britton told his father to call 911 and drove his truck the two blocks to the Lawrence Road fire house. Three firefighters were at the station cleaning equipment when Britton rushed inside. ‘We were out the door and on the road with the first engine before the police had a chance to dispatch us,’ Britton said. There was still no sign that anything was wrong at the house when firefighters arrived and attempted to enter. But when they knocked in a small window pane on the back door, thick black smoke poured out. Firefighters entered the smoke-laden house and discovered that the cause was a pot of food burning on the stove. Although the contents of the pot were charred beyond recognition, they appeared to have been boiling in water for some time. When the water evaporated the food then burned, fire officials said.”

November 5, 1994
On Saturday, November 5, 1994, Engine 22-1 was dispatched to stand by at Station 52 while the Hopewell Fire Department fought a fire in the woods in the area of Wertsville Road and Feather Bed Lane in Hopewell Township. Engine 22-1 was later sent to the scene. Lawrence Road firefighters used Indian tanks and brooms to beat down the flames. This account was published in the Trenton Times on Sunday, November 6, 1994: “About 100 firefighters and more than a dozen fire engines from three counties were mobilized yesterday to control a raging fire that devastated 10 acres of woodland. One volunteer firefighter from the Pennington Fire Department was injured in the blaze. Calvin Scheetz, 18, was overcome by smoke and transported to the Medical Center at Princeton, where he was treated and released, according to a nursing supervisor. Firefighters were first alerted to the blaze about 2 p.m. when a number of residents called police to report a large column of smoke in the northern part of town, said Chief Larry Omland of the Hopewell Fire Department. Responding units quickly identified the source of the smoke as a brush fire in a large wooded area just north of Feather Bed Lane and west of Wertsville Road, Omland said. But firefighters had trouble gaining access to the fire, which was located back in the woods some distance from the road. Large trees and soggy ground made it impossible to maneuver the heavy fire engines near the fire. A special call was put out to neighboring municipalities for their ‘brush units’ to respond to the scene. These compact all-terrain vehicles – specially designed for fighting field fires – allowed fire crews to cut off the rapidly spreading blaze and bring it under control in about 90 minutes. Firefighters with portable tanks of water strapped to their backs then began the grueling process of ‘overhauling’ the scene, dousing smoldering embers to ensure the fire did not rekindle. Fire crews finally left the scene around 5:30 p.m., but Omland said units from the forestry service would return later that night to wet down the area as a precaution. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation at this time, according to Omland, who estimated that about 10 acres of woodland burned. Firefighters from all three Hopewell Valley departments – Hopewell, Pennington and Union – battled the blaze. Assisting were the Lawrence Road and Lawrenceville fire companies from Mercer County, West Amwell and Amwell Valley fire companies from Hunterdon County, and the Montgomery Fire Department from Somerset County. Members of the Hopewell First Aid Squad were also present to monitor vital signs of each firefighter as he or she returned from fighting the fire.”

December 1, 1994
Lawrence Road firefighters rescued a woman from a blaze in her home on Johnson Avenue on Thursday, December 1, 1994. The Trenton Times published this report on Friday, December 2, 1994:

“A 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.”

December 2, 1994
A multiple-alarm blaze broke out at an abandoned warehouse on Spruce Street in Ewing Township, just over the border from Lawrence, on Friday, December 2, 1994. Lawrence Road firefighters were quickly called to the scene to help battle the raging inferno. This story was printed in the Trenton Times on Saturday,

December 3, 1994
“More than 100 firefighters fought a suspicious four-alarm blaze that destroyed half of a Spruce Street warehouse yesterday. The fire, which was discovered shortly before 2:45 p.m., sent a thick plume of grayish-white smoke billowing into the afternoon sky, congesting the fire scene and seeming to swallow up fire crews as they battled the blaze at the corner of Spruce and Fourth streets. When members of the Prospect Heights Fire Co. first arrived, they found smoke surrounding a large vacant warehouse at the corner of the 1900 block. ‘It was thick and coming out all the windows and doors. Then part of the roof came in and the fire ventilated itself. Flames shot straight up,’ Prospect Heights Chief William G. Erney said. ‘We tried to make an aggressive interior attack, but when the roof started to sag because of the fire, we pulled everyone out and went to an exterior attack. I wasn't going to risk people's lives by keeping them inside,’ Erney said.

“Additional 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 building’s contents. ‘It was full of storage containers and cardboard boxes. It was all fuel for the fire,’ he said.

“Officials 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 Prosecutor’s 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.”

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