Fire in Candy Plant in Trenton
A fire discovered shortly before 5 o’clock in the morning on January 5th, swept the 5-story plant of the Belle Meade Sweets Company, at Trenton, N. J., doing damage amounting to nearly $100,000. The building occupied a space 50 by 100 feet and was nearly 70 feet in height. It was built twenty years ago of brick and frame construction with no fire walls. The fire started near the center of the building, at the elevator shaft, from an unknown cause. The flames were discovered by the night watchman while making his hourly rounds of the building. At 5 o’clock he saw no evidence of fire but at 6 o’clock was unable to ascend the stairs because of flames and smoke. He immediately sent in an alarm over the auxiliary system. The flames spread so rapidly that the district apparatus which responded to the alarm was unable to cope with them and a general alarm, to which Chief Bennett, Assistant Chiefs Lanning and Stackhouse and nearly the entire department responded, was sent in. It required two hours and forty-five minutes of hard work before the fire was finally brought under control. Chief Bennett was greatly hampered in his work by two explosions and the fact that no one was injured showed the good judgment he exercised. When the firemen first arrived the flames were confined to the second and third floors and the men entered the building to get near to the blaze. The heat communicated to the ammonia tanks used in the operation of a series of refrigerators on the third floor and caused explosions which shook the entire neighborhood. For a time the firemen were able to confine the flames to the second and third floors but as soon as the blaze reached the elevator shaft, it made quick work in igniting the stores on both the floors above and below. A large portion of the floors and walls of the third and fourth floors were packed with cork for refrigerator purposes and once this became ignited, the firemen found great difficulty in extinguishing it. Eight streams were employed at one time, all from engines. The pressure at the hydrants was 39 pounds. Eight three-way hydrants were used, and the fact that they were fed by a six-inch main accounted for the low hydrant pressure. Chief Bennett had lines taken to the top of the adjoining dwellings. From these water was thrown into the fire and it worked very effectively. The use of certain kinds of oils in the manufacture of candies gave the contents on the fourth floor, used as a coating room, a highly inflammable character and it was there that the fire was hottest. Two deluge sets were used from a distance and did good work. The Trenton Department, under Chief Bennett, received much credit for the manner in which they confined the fire to the Belle Meade plant and for keeping the loss from being total.