Camden Evening Courier * July 27, 1925
FOUR FIREMEN ARE
TRAPPED IN COLLAPSE OF BRICK WALL
Four firemen were buried under a falling brick wall, two of them believed to have been seriously hurt, and thousands of dollars worth of property was destroyed in a spectacular fire at the two story brick warehouse of Bantivoglio & Son, junk dealers, 252 Division Street, at 9:00 o'clock this morning.
The injured firemen attached to Engine Company No. 7, all of whom were taken to West Jersey Homeopathic Hospital, were:
Captain Charles Watkin 45 years old, 927 North Front street. Four fractured ribs and a punctured lung. he may die.
Nicholas Romaine, 43 years old, hoseman, 1271 Chase Street, lacerations of scalp and possible fracture of right ankle.
Louis Quinton, 25 years old, hoseman. 626 Viola Street, probable fracture of right shoulder.
Lester Anderson, 24 years old, hoseman, 1917 Niagara Road; lacerations of scalp and forehead and fractured left wrist.
None of the four were able to walk when they were lifted from where they had been struck down by the falling bricks. They were carried to the police ambulance and hurried at once to the hospital.
Residents of the neighborhood sat that a flash and a roar, as of an explosion, was their first warning of a blaze. The burned building has a frontage of 75 feet on Division Street. In a yard behind it there was a shed piled high with baled paper and three piled of used automobile tires. These caught fire and sent up black smoke that was visible for miles.
Smoke Hampers Firemen
A huge crowd of spectators already had gathered to watch the fire in this thickly populated section when the firemen arrived. The flames were threatening surrounding buildings, and the smoke was so dense that the men had difficulty finding their way out in the vicinity of the burning structure.
Captain Watkin and the three other fire fighters started along a driveway beside the building with a length of hose which they intended to use on the blazing sheds in the rear. They were passing a window when there was a muffled roar and a blast of dense smoke blinded and confused them. By shouts to one another they heard that there number was still intact. The blast of black smoke had been caused by the collapse of a loft and the falling of several bales of paper.
100,000 Tires Burn
More than 100,000 used automobile tires were destroyed in the blaze. The flames jumped a hundred feet into the air at one stage. Commissioner Hitchner watched the firemen at work from the roof of a nearby garage.
When the blaze had been extinguished Mr. Hitchner left to visit the injured firemen in the hospital. He commended the four men on their bravery and wished them a speedy recovery. Quinton is driver for Battalion Chief Wade.
The flames threatened to spread to the large garage of Louis Vananeri, on Spruce Street, directly in the rear of the junk yard. Firemen mounted the roof of this building and drove the flames back.
Today's blaze was the fourth that had visited the warehouse this year. The fire today is believed to have been caused by spontaneous combustion.
Carter Directs Rescue
The quarter were stooping to take up their hose line again when there was a crack like the report of a pistol, followed by a terrific roar.
Fire Chief Carter, personally directing his men, was about 50 feet away, and saw the four men buried as the bricks thudded down from the crumbling wall.
"Come on boys, there are four men under here." the chief yelled, and soon a score of hands were tearing frantically at the heaps of hot brick.
Bus Delays Ambulance
The police ambulance in which the injured men were placed was delayed for five minutes on its way to the hospital by the refusal of a Public Service bus driver to give it the right of way. According to Policeman Howard Fisher, the busman was arrested. The police say he will be prosecuted to the full extent of the ordinance in such cases. The ambulance was forced to remain behind the bus for a block and a half, according to the reports.
The pillar of smoke sent up by the blazing warehouse, sheds and 50-foot high piles of auto tires, drew thousands of spectators from all directions. Three alarms were turned in to the fire department in rapid succession. The police were called upon at once to establish lines for keeping back the crowd.
Bales of paper stored in the main building, as well as in the shed behind, .absorbed tons of water poured into the place by the firemen's hose, and the added weight snapped off fire-weakened floor beams like burning matches. The falling timbers and masses of packed paper added to the danger and difficulty of the firemen's task.
Only by a long and stubborn fight were the foremen able to prevent a conflagration among surrounding buildings.
The big warehouse became a red hot furnace. The heat was so intense a half-hour after the fire was discovered that telephone ad electric light poles on the other side of Division Street were ignited. "Trouble crews" from the telephone and electric companies were rushed to the place to guard their wires against falling and injuring persons below.
Loss placed at $50,000
It was roughly estimated that the the damage to the junk sheds and warehouse would reach $50,000.
Mrs. Leona Brown, who had just moved today into the house at 264 Division Street, just east of the burned plant, was driven from her new home by the dense clouds of smoke from a blazing of automobile tires that towered above the west wall of her two-story dwelling.
She was unable to return for any of her belongings when the .flames began to eat their way through the west wall of her house.
The fire was the second within a month in the junk yard, which is closely surrounded by frame residences, a frame negro church and other buildings on all sides.
Romaine Seriously Hurt
Hoseman Romaine was reported by. surgeons at the West Jersey Homeopathic Hospital as the most seriously hurt of the firemen caught by the falling wall. He was curt above the head, badly bruised about the back, and one of his ankles is believed to have been fractured.
Captain Watkin suffered several fractured ribs.
Hoseman Anderson was cut and burned about the face and his right wrist.
Hoseman Quinton suffered burns, cuts and bruises, and it is believed that one of his shoulders was fractured.
FIREMAN DIED OF OLD INJURIES
Injuries suffered while fighting a fire in a junk shop nearly eight years ago, proved fatal today, to Nicholas Romaine*, 48, of 2420 Mickle Street, a city fireman. Romaine died in West Jersey Homeopathic Hospital.
who joined the fire department January 1, 1921,
suffered injuries to his
lungs and ribs when a brick
wall fell on him during the blaze in a
near Third and Division
Streets, July 27, 1925.
Five other firemen also were hurt.
was confined in the hospital for nearly five months and never fully
regained his health. At various times he was forced to undergo medical
treatment, entering the hospital again a year ago. Last September he
was again forced to go to the hospital, remaining there until his
At the time he was injured he was a member of Engine Company No. 7 at 1115 Kaighn Avenue. When he returned to duty in December of 1925 he was transferred to Engine Company No. 11, Twenty-seventh Street and Hayes Avenue. He is survived by his widow, Pauline. Funeral arrangements have not been completed.
*"Romain" was the spelling used in this article
Thanks to Tony F. Romaine, grandson of Nicholas Romaine, without whose research this page would not have been possible. Click here for additional information about Nicholas Romaine.
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