Fire Wipes Out Reading Terminal at Camden
The Camden, N. J., terminal and ferryhouse of the Atlantic City Division of the Reading Railroad and Cole’s lumber yard adjoining, were swept by fire that did over $500,000 damage on the morning of Sunday. January 4. The J. H. Dialogue Shipbuilding Company’s plant nearby suffered about $5,000 damage. Every company of the Camden fire department was in service at the fire and Chief Engineer John A. Stockton realizing the danger of the fire spreading, asked Philadelphia for assistance and three companies, under Battalion Chief Barrett, crossed the river and gave valuable aid to the Camden department. In addition several Pennsylvania Railroad, Reading Railroad and Philadelphia fire tugs joined in fighting the fire. The fire started in the reading room at the terminal and ferryhouse where employees waited to take out trains or work on ferryboats. In a moment that room was in flames and the fire spread with such rapidity that when Chief Stockton, who was among the first to arrive in response to the alarm, arrived the terminal was a roaring mass and he sent in a general alarm. The three companies from Philadelphia arrived about an hour after the fire started and consisted of Engine Companies 27, 21 and 18. The loss includes an estimated loss of approximately $150,000 on the Reading Railroad’s building. Twenty passenger coaches, including eight Pullmans besides twelve ordinary coaches, were destroyed and ten coaches sustained damage. The loss to the Cole lumber yard was placed at over $100,000. Several firemen were overcome by smoke and while a number of them, a policeman and others received minor injuries, nobody was seriously hurt. The terminal building, surmounted by the two small towers, was erected in 1891, replacing the building burned in March of that year and which had been built in 1889. Connected with the ferry house and terminal were the train sheds where long lines of passenger coaches stood, reaching from Front street to the end of the wharf, flush with the end of the piling of the ferry house. A locomotive was telephoned and though when it arrived the shed was ablaze and the cars appeared doomed to des_____tion the cars were hauled out of danger as long as it was possible to do so. The cars in the shed included a number of wooden cars and these burned until there was nothing left but the trucks and iron frame work. Steel cars stood through the fire, the steel frame and side remaining, though the woodwork was burned. In the fire of twenty-three years ago the Coles Lumber Company yard escaped, the wind not being as high as it was this time. The debris smouldered so long that two fire companies under Battalion Chief Browning had streams upon it until noon the next day and two tugboats also sent streams on the debris. The fire department came in for much praise for preventing the further spread of the fire.