Six Die as Fire Guts Home

Six Die as Fire Guts Home

On Monday evening, November 15, 1943, a little over a month after the close of Fire Prevention Week, a tragic fire snuffed out the lives of a woman, her three sons and two nieces and gutted their home.

The structure was an old story-and-ahalf frame dwelling located at the rear of 402 Palisade Avenue, Jersey City, N. J., and burned unnoticed for a considerable time, screened from view of passersby on the street. This factor accounts for the complete gutting of the building and the inability of firemen to effect a rescue.

The alarm, by telephone, was received at fire headquarters at 8:49 p.m. Engine Co. 18 and Truck Co. 10 located two blocks away responded. An attempt was made to enter the burning building but smoke and flame drove back the firemen. Rescue by ladder through a small second story window was also impossible. One line of 2 1/2″-hose was put into play and advanced up the narrow stairway to the second floor. At the head of the stairs the body of Mrs. Mary Florian was found and beside her the body of one of the children.

Engine Companies 12, 11, 26 and Truck Co. 7 with a battalion chief responded to an additional alarm at 8:54 p.m. and were going into action as the bodies were found. Two lines of 2 1/2″hose were laid and the fire quickly subdued. The grim task of removing the victims was begun. The first bodies removed were the woman and the two girls, aged 6 and 2. They were beyond aid. The woman’s clothing was completely burned off and the fingers of the right hand were burned or blown off. The three boys, aged 10, 8 and 3, were rushed to the Medical Center in two ambulances but died enroute. Death in all cases was attributed to asphyxiation and burns.

The fire was caused by the ignition of fumes from a flammable cleaning fluid being used to clean gloves close to an open fire in the kitchen stove, both lids being off. Mrs. Florian, clothing aflame, ran to the second floor bedrooms in a vain attempt to rescue the children and spread the fire there.

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