FATAL FIRE IN THE CAMDEN ARMORY

FATAL FIRE IN THE CAMDEN ARMORY

Specially written for FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING.

The fatal fire which destroyed the old armory building at Camden, N. J., and caused the loss of three firemen, is put down as mysterious in its origin. It is to be regretted that such a poor building should be the means of killing such valuable men; but the life of a fireman is at best very precarious, and he knows not what may happen after the sound of each alarm. The names of the heroes who went down with the armory are:

William B. Jobes, fireman of engine company No. I.

CHIEF S. ELFRETH, CAMDEN, N. J.

George W. Shields, fireman of truck company No. 2.

William Hillman, fireman of truckcompany No. 2.

Their portraits are shown in the illustration acompanying, which appears through the courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer. This is the first tire at which fatalities have occurred since the formation of the paid fire department of Camden in December, 1869. In addition to those killed, eight other firemen were injured and several had very narrow escapes. Four alarms were rung in at 6 p. m.. and, when the first chemical company reached the scene, heavy smoke was pouring out of the building on its northeast corner. Other apparatus arrived, with Chief hlfreth, and soon some twenty men were inside the building playing several streams on that part of structure where the worst part of the fire had been located. Fireman Hertline, of the chemical company called attention to a large room 011 the second story, which was found to be on fire, and the men were ordered out of the building. Before Chief F.lfreth had reached the street, a portion of the false ceiling fell, a back draught was formed that sent volumes of smoke into Mickle street, and almost instantly thereafter the entire building seemed to be a mass of flames. After the first volume of smoke cleared away, the injured staggered to the street, where they were placed in patrol wagons and taken to the Homoeopathic hospital, and a count of heads showed that three men were missing. Every effort was made to get the fire under control, when their bodies were found at the place where the false ceiling fell, showing that they were unable to respond to the chiefs order to get out before they were caught in the burning debris which overwhelmed them. The report of the fire, as furnished FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING by Chief F.lfreth, states that the building, which was located at West and Mickle streets, covered a space of 150 by 170 feet and was sixty feet high to the top of the skylight in the centre. It was a frame structure, with brick foundation. The fire started in the northeast corner of West street and Bridge avenue, and was caused by an overheated steam boiler and stack running through the second floor and roof. When the first apparatus arrived, the fire had taken good hold on both floors, and three second-size Metropolitan, one second-size Clapp and Jones, and one second-size Button engine, with an aerial truck, a city hook and ladder truck and two chemical engines were brought into service. There were five four-inch and six-inch single hydrants available, set about 300 feet apart. The pressure at the hydrants was sixteen pounds, sufficient to furnish one stream from each steamer. No hydrant streams were used. As the street was fifty feet wide and the principal main was six inches in diameter, with a lateral pipe of three inches on the side .street, it will be seen that the department was somewhat handicapped in this direction. Seven streams from one and one-eighth-inch to one and a quarter-inch were thrown on the building at one time, and 3.700 feet of cotton, rubber-lined hose were used, two lengths of which burst during the progress of the fire. No special nozzles were used, only the regular playpipe of the department. I he loss on pronerty destroyed was $45,000; insurance on buiding. $70,000: insurance on contents, $6,000.

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