January 13, 1986:
house was built around 1910 and had been the location of Riders
School of Education officers since the college moved from Trenton in
the late 1950's said Earle Rommel, Rider's director of public information.
Hocking said the fire began in the basement area where a college maintenance
man had soldered some water pipes between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. The blaze
probably started from the heat and fire used in the soldering,
he said. When there's too much heat near the wooden floor joists,
the wood is a lot easier toaccidentally
get on fire. He said the accident is not uncommon.
When firefighters arrived there was heavy fire coming out of the windows on each of the three floors of the building, Hocking said. The center section of the roof and floors of the building's north side collapsed into the basement, which forced firefighters to remain on the scene until about 6 a.m. to hose down the ruins, Hocking said. About 60 firefighters from the township's three fire companies Lawrenceville, Slackwood and Lawrence Road battled the blaze.
The first incident report on which Engine 22-3 appears is the one for a possible electrical fire in a state building at the Brunswick Circle on Tuesday, February 18, 1986. Station 22 was dispatched at 2:45 p.m. and was back in quarters by 2:59 p.m.
Thursday, July 10, 1986, at 11:55 a.m. Lawrence Township Patrolman Peter
Harmon, who was working as the police dispatcher, received a phone call
from Tim Kasony Sr. of 16 Forrest Avenue reporting a working fire at
the above mentioned address. At 11:57 a.m. Station 22 and 21 were dispatched
for a report of a working house fire at 16 Forrest Avenue. Battalion
Chief 22, John Fleming, arrived first on the scene and reported heavy
smoke showing from the third floor. First-arriving Engine 22-1 was ordered
to lead off with 1.5-inch hoselines.
12:00 p.m. Chief 22, Ted Clemen, and Chief 21, Dale Robbins, arrived
on the fireground and started sizing up the scene for incoming units.
At 12:01 p.m. Engine 21-2 under the command of Captain 21-1, Ed Budzinski,
was ordered to lay a 5-inch line from the hydrant in front of 23 Forrest
Avenue and backup Engine 22-1. The first hose line to reach the fire,
which was located on the third floor 8-by-20 foot bedroom, was attacked
by Tim Kasony Sr. and Rick Farletta. Both firemen commented that there
was heavy smoke and fire at the top stairway entrance to the bedroom.
12:05 p.m., Station 23 was requested by Chief Clemen to cover Station
22. Engine 23-2 under the command of Assistant Chief Kevin Reading was
ordered by Chief Clemen to disregard his request for standby and to
proceed into the scene to assist with extra manpower. At 12:15 p.m.,
Assistant Chief 21, Jack Oakley Jr., who was in command of the third-floor
fire attack operations, relayed to Chief 22 that the fire was knocked
down and controlled. At 12:20 p.m. Chief Clemen placed the fire under
control and requested the fire marshal respond to the scene.
At 12:50 p.m. Mercer County Assistant Fire Marshal Joseph Lenhardt arrived on the scene. Final conclusion of the investigation was that the fire started in a 4-by-6 foot clothes closet located on the third floor. A light bulb was left on in the closet touching against some clothing material. Three firefighters received minor injuries at the scene. Joseph Lenarski of Station 21 and Ken Kandrac of Station 23 reported minor finger cuts and Michael Oakley of Station 21 reported an eye injury. All units left the scene and went available at 2:55 p.m. At 4:33 p.m. that same day, Lawrence Road Fire Co. was dispatched back to the Kasony residence at 16 Forrest Avenue to extinguish a rekindle of the fire in the third floor area.
The following details were included in the incident report written by Capt. Alan Laird: Some members of the fire company were alerted to a problem with the siren and responded to the building to find a working fire in the building with flames venting out the roof over the kitchen. The rest of the companys members and two additional companies (Slackwood and Lawrenceville) were dispatched at 0420 hours. The initial attack consisted of one 1.75-inch handline through the engine room to the banquet hall, one 1.75-inch handline through the engine room to the kitchen, and one 1.75-inch handline to the second floor. Ventilation was accomplished by opening of windows, doors, garage doors, and cutting of holes in the roof over the kitchen, banquet hall and second floor. The fire was quickly knocked down and extensive overhaul operations were performed. Damage consisted of total destruction to the hallway, kitchen, bar, and associated equipment, and there was heavy damage done to the banquet hall. There was structural damage done to the roof over the kitchen, bar, hallway and banquet hall. There was damage to electrical equipment and smoke damage throughout the building. The burn lines were low to the floor in the kitchen and bar area. Damage to the roof and wall structures indicated that the fire moved upwards to the northwest and vented itself out through the roof. Fire also extended into the hallway and banquet hall. Most of the fire was high in the ceiling area...
following story was printed in the Trentonian on Monday, December 22,
1986: A Lawrence Township fire policeman died and two firefighters
were injured responding to an early morning alarm at Lawrence Road Fire
Co. yesterday and the response time may have been quicker than usual
because the fire was in the firehouse. The response to the fire
was real good by our department because our smoke alarms are hooked
directly into the fire siren, said Lawrence Road Fire Chief Ted
Clemen. The fire, which was brought under control in about 40 minutes,
was contained to the kitchen and banquet hall, Clemen said. There
was heavy smoke and water damage throughout the firehouse but there
was no damage sustained to the fire equipment and the fire company is
in full service and able to respond to all fire alarms, he said.
Walter Lukaszewski, a longtime member of the Slackwood Fire Co. and captain of the Mercer County Fire Police, collapsed at the scene and was transported to Helene Fuld Medical Center and was pronounced dead at the hospital, Clemen said. John Barone and Tim Kasony Sr. were injured while fighting the fire, Clemen said. Both suffered from smoke inhalation and were taken to Helene Fuld Medical Center. A nursing supervisor said Barone was treated and released and Kasony was admitted but in stable condition last night. Clemen said fires in firehouse are not all that uncommon, but the chief would not speculate how the blaze began. The fire in under investigation by county and township officials and theyre be here bright and early in the morning to check it out, Clemen said last night. The area has been sealed off. In addition to Lawrence Road and Slackwood fire companies, Ewing Townships Pennington Road department and the Lawrence First Aid Squad responded to the alarm, which was called in at 4:20 a.m., Clemen said. Although the fire was pronounced under control at 5 a.m., firemen remained on the scene throughout the day attempting to clean up the debris.
The following are statements recorded on the day of the fire by some of the first members on the scene:
James Yates I heard the firehouse siren blowing for quite a while and realized that it may have been the firehouse fire alarm. When I arrived, to the best of my knowledge, no one else was at the firehouse. I opened and unlocked the southwest engine room door. Smoke was about waist level in the engine room and there was popping and sounds of burning on the hall side of the building. At about that time the police were paging Chief Clemen to look into the fire siren blowing. I attempted to call the police numerous times on both F-1 and F-3 but they did not answer. At this time, Officer Bill Eggert of the Lawrence Township Police Department arrived. I told him to have the dispatcher blow out the township fire companies for a fire in our firehouse. Chief Clemen and past-Chief Reed arrived at that time. I told Chief Clemen that I was going to start removing the apparatus from the building. I removed Engine 22-3 from the engine room and place it in the firehouse parking lot. I then returned to the firehouse, put on my turnout gear and then laid a 4-inch line with Engine 22-2, which was on the ramp, to the fire hydrant at the corner of Lawrence Road and Marlboro Road.
Charles Commini Upon arrival at the scene, I was in my car at the corner of Route 206 and Altamawr Avenue. I radioed back to Lawrence Control, We have a heavy smoke condition. At least one truck (was out) and another was on its way out of the engine room. I ran through the engine room to the door for the hall because I could see a glow in the sky above the hall when I was in my car. I opened the door to the hall and saw flames coming from the ceiling of the bar. One of our captains, Pat Kent, came to the door and tried to open it. I slammed it shut on him and told him to get a line. I also told him where the fire was. Tim Kasony also came to the door and tried to open it. I pulled him back too. He had boots, coat, but no helmet. Pat Kent got the handline and I went outside to get Lawrencevilles trucks set up.
Patrick Kent When I arrived the trucks were being pulled out onto the ramp. I went to the door to the hall, opened to door and closed it. I went to the engine and pulled off hose and went to the hall door and opened it and saw no fire. I went to the rear of the building and opened windows.
Tim Marsh I arrived at the firehouse and saw that there was one truck left in the engine room (Engine 22-2). I pulled that truck onto the ramp and left it running. After pulling the truck out, I went over and put my turnout gear on. I then went to the door leading to the hall to give Pat Kent a hand with the line. We entered the hall and saw no fire behind the bar. But we shot some water on the ceiling and Pat Kent said he was going out to open the windows. After Pat Kent left to open windows, I stayed in the doorway. Then, John Barone and Tim Kasony came to the door with masks on and relieved me so I could go put on a mask.
John Zita On the night of the Lawrence Road firehouse fire, I woke up to the sound of the siren blowing. Then my pager, which is an officers pager, went off. I got dressed and went to the firehouse. It took about five minutes to reach the fire house. I pulled into McGraths parking lot. Chief Clemen was standing on the ramp. I ran across the street and Fireman Kasony ran out of the middle bay door with an air pack on his back and a face shield in his hand. We both ran up to the chief at the same time. Kasony pulled on the chief and asked him what he wanted him to do. The chief told Kasony and I to get a line off the truck and go to the upstairs of the firehouse. Kasony turned to me and asked me to turn his mask on. At this time, several firemen came and I told Kasony he had enough help with the line and I was going back out to do traffic duty. I left and went to Gainsboro Road to direct traffic.
John Barone I was awakened by the pager. I then responded to the firehouse. I ran into the engine room and to my gear, noticing at the same time Tim Kasony preparing to enter the hall from the engine room with a 1.75-inch line. Firefighter Kasony was wearing a 4.5 air apparatus. I proceeded to put my gear on and donned No. 4 mask next to my gear. I then proceeded to backup Kasony on the line. We entered the hall, noticing fire coming out of the bar and fire in front of us. Tim hit the fire above us and in the bar and proceeded further into the hall. At this time, Firefighter Marsh joined us on the line. Captain Marsh yelled to me to back out because he thought the roof or the ceiling was coming down. I in turn relayed the message to Kasony and we began to back the line out. Kasony said there was something wrong with his mask. Just what was wrong I dont know. But I noticed him playing with the start-up valve on the regulator. Kasony apparently fixed the problem and we started back into the hall. He hit the bar area again, this time putting the nozzle into the bar area and knocking it pretty good. We proceeded further in. We were next to the door leading from the hallway near the kitchen to the hall when Kasony yelled for more line. I turned and yelled to Marsh and he started giving me line. When I turned back to Kasony he was lying face up, unconscious. I tried to wake him but he was out cold. I started to drag him but he was wrapped up in the line. Yelling to Marsh, I told him Kasony was down and he proceeded to help me get him out. We moved Kasony a couple of feet when he came to. He said he was okay, and then went unconscious again. I sent Marsh for help and grabbed Kasony in a nelson to drag him out. I started backing out and he came to again, this time in a fit. I dont know if he got scared or what but he started swinging his arms and struggling. During this mishap, I lost my helmet and face piece and my right hand glove. I passed Kasony onto someone else. I then proceeded to where we left the line because the fire was starting to roll again. I hit the fire above me and all over while backing out. I made it to the door of the hall. Thats when I was overcome.
18-year-old Hamilton Township man died yesterday from injuries suffered
when the car he was traveling in crashed through a guardrail on the
Whitehead Road bridge and landed on its roof in the Assunpink Creek
just before midnight Saturday, police said. The driver of the car was
later charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol and
reckless driving, police said. The driver and another passenger were
also injured in the accident. Gregory Mahalik of Collins Road in Hamilton
was pronounced dead at Helene Fuld Medical Center in Trenton at 1:40
a.m., police said. Mahalik was suffering from multiple trauma at the
time of his death. Douglas Theberge, 18, of Monroe Avenue in Hamilton,
was arrested in connection with the accident, said Patrolman John Simonelli.
Theberge was treated for minor injuries at Helene Fuld and released
yesterday. Kimberly Byrne, 18, of Hamilton, was in stable condition
at Mercer Medical Center last night, suffering from a concussion and
Theberge was the driver of a 1974 mid-sized car headed east on Whitehead Road, Simonelli said, Byrner and Mahalik were front-seat passengers. The car was in a group with two other cars which each carried Hamilton teenagers. The group had been at a local bowling alley. Simonelli said Theberge apparently pulled into the westbound lane and tried to pass at least one of the other cars near the Whitehead Road bridge at 11:54 p.m. Saturday. Driving at a high rate of speed, Theberge lost control and struck a curb, Simonelli said. The car then crashed through a guardrail just before the bridge and flipped over. The car landed on its roof just below the falls in the Assunpink Creek, Simonelli said. Four unidentified Hamilton teenagers in the other tow cars jumped into the creek and pulled Theberge and Byrne from the car, Simonelli said. Mahalik was trapped in the car and could not be freed by the teenagers. Rescue workers and firefighters arrived on the scene and freed Mahalik...
tank car filled with 100 tons of white phosphorous burned out of control
for more than five hours in the Conrail freightyards off Lower Morrisville
Road in Falls yesterday morning, forcing the evacuation of an estimated
1,500 nearby residents. At one point, the fire threatened another nearby
tank car containing highly explosive chlorine, but the car was moved
in a valiant effort by an unidentified Conrail crewman and the township
fire marshal, Ray Forrestal. More than 150 firefighters from Bucks County
and neighboring New Jersey municipalities were pressed into service
to battle the blaze. Roads near the fire, including Routes 1 and 13
and Tyburn Road, were closed until 1 p.m. There were areas on
Lower Morrisville Road where you couldnt see your hand in front
of your face, Forrestal said.
firemen quickly responded to the alarm, it took nearly 90 minutes for
them to stretch hoses from fire hydrants in Morrisville, at least a
mile away. The fire finally was extinguished shortly after noon. The
water pumping delay, Forrestal said, was due to an inadequate water
supply in the railyard. If water had been more readily available, the
fire could have been put out sooner, he said. It would have helped,
Forrestal said at a news conference. I wish we had a lot more
hydrants back there. The few that are there, he said, are useless
in a case like this. The fire involved one tank car, but the situation
could have been far worse had the second tank car, containing the chlorine,
also caught fire. The chlorine tank car was moved by the Conrail employee
and fire marshal using a switch engine. The tank car sustained only
minor exterior damage. Asked afterward about the maneuver, Forrestal
responded, I was praying. Some nearby rail cars contained
corn syrup, which also posed a hazard, but other cars on adjacent tracks
Fire officials said they were most concerned with preventing an explosion in the chlorine car. Had the chlorine car exploded, said Falls police Sgt. Charles Schaffner, we would have had to evacuate a 20-mile radius. That would have meant evacuating all of Lower Bucks County, much of Mercer County, and parts of north Philadelphia. Officials said high winds, blowing in a southwesterly direction, helped prevent the situation from worsening. The winds dissipated the smoke cloud and helped carry it away from the most heavily-populated areas. Residents of Falls Townships Nottingham and Pennwood Crossing sections, and workers in the Penn-Warner and Worthington industrial parks were evacuated shortly after the fire started at 6:50 a.m. Two motorists were injured in an accident caused by the smoke, and two firefighters were injured fighting the blaze. Forrestal said the burning tank car was the fourth car in a row of five tank cars. On the track next to it was another set of five tank cars, four containing corn syrup and the one filled with chlorine. An estimated 25 fire companies responded to the fire from as far as Wrightstown, Pa., said Falls Fire Chief Bill Devine...
truck carrying more than 8,000 gallons of highly flammable butane flipped
off an Interstate 295 exit ramp bridge last night, exploded moments
later, injuring at least seven people and touching off an inferno at
the heavily used interchange of I-295 and Route 1. Injured motorists
lay dazed and bleeding in several areas around the maze of curling highways,
while firefighters poured water and foam onto the truck from the bridge
above it in an effort to prevent further explosions. The injured were
transported to area hospitals, while one man with serious burns was
transferred by helicopter to the burn center at St. Barnabas Medical
Center in Livingston.
said the initial blast sent a fireball 200 feet into the air. Two hours
later, 20- to 30-foot flames continued to leap from the tanker, illuminating
the strangely empty highways. The blaze finally was doused at about
10 p.m., although firefighters on the scene late last night said scattered
small fires continued to burn in the woods nearby. The truck, southbound
on I-295, had attempted to take the exit ramp to Route 1 south when
the accident occurred. After the crash, the mangled cab of the truck
was wedged precariously against the bridges guardrail some 60
yards from the burning butane-laden tank. The driver, Gerardo Garcia,
24, of Irvington, was stretched out, streaked with mud and blood, some
20 feet from his cab. Witnesses said he and others caught in the blast
ran burning from their vehicles into two nearby waterways, the Delaware
and Raritan Canal and the Shipetaukin Creek.
the cab, on a ramp off of Route 1 south, Robert Moore, 34, of Skillman,
stood beside his van, soaking wet, his face and what was left of his
hair caked with mud. David Parris, 43, and his wife, Susan, 37, both
of Trenton, lay wrapped in blankets and wearing oxygen masks, on the
shoulder of I-295, some 100 yards from where the truck was blazing.
Cars even further away stood empty and burned. After the explosion
there was fire everywhere, said Joe Hubler, a passing motorist
who said he and another had pulled Moore from the creek. You couldnt
breathe and you could smell burning flesh and wood all the trees
and grass around here were on fire, Hubler said, pointing to a
scorched area below the bridge. I ran up to the ramp to where
I caw the van and then I heard people yelling from the water.
to Sgt. John McCormick at the scene last night, some motorists had gotten
out of their cars to help Garcia. Butane had leaked from the truck,
McCormick said, then ignited, turning the area into a raging caldron.
They got badly burned because they were out of their cars when
it lit up, McCormick said. Just heat from all the passing
vehicles would have been enough to set it off. When it did go, people
were trapped. Apparently, there was a wall of fire all the way across
295, McCormick said. John Philhower said the explosion rocked
his Route 1 Exxon station a half-mile away. I saw napalm in Vietnam
and it was nothing like the fire I saw when I got here, Philhower
said. Pandemonium followed the crash as fire and rescue vehicles scrambled
through the traffic to cool off the burning truck and aid the injured.
firefighters set up their apparatus about 25 feet above the chemical
truck, police units tried to seal off the area. From all around came
the sound of screeching tires and collisions as motorists stopped to
look at the spectacular flames. Route 1 eventually was closed from Franklin
Corner Road to Quakerbridge Road and I-295 was closed from Route 206
to Sloan Avenue in Hamilton. The danger of further explosions preoccupied
firefighters. At first, it was believed the container was separated
into compartments and the fire might trigger another explosion. Thus,
water was poured on the burning tanker to keep it cool until foam trucks
dispatched from Mercer County Airport arrived. According to firefighters
on the scene, the foam would serve to smother the flames. Firefighters
later determined that the truck, owned by Ritter Transportation in Rahway,
was a single compartment tanker containing 8,073 gallons of butane.
The combination of water and foam finally extinguished the fire just
before 10 p.m. We didnt want to put out a fire like this,
said Lawrenceville Fire Chief Kevin Reading, who directed firefighting
operations. All we could do was pour on the water and the A-Triple-F
foam to keep it cool and let it burn out.
from Lawrence, West Windsor, Hamilton, Ewing, and Princeton Township
were called to assist, according to Lawrence Police Chief William Seabridge.
Firefighting units from Lawrence, West Windsor, Ewing, Hamilton, Trenton,
and Hopewell Township were also dispatched. It looked like an
atomic bomb, said Tony Maro, 16, a passenger in a car that was
several car-lengths behind the tanker when it exploded. Maro said he
and a friend saw the tanker round a curve and then we saw it explode.
Then it lit again and it went all over the highway. Flames from
the explosion caught State Police Sgt. Walter Perski as he ran from
his car, Maro said. We saw him running and then all of a sudden
the flame kicked and caught him. Maro said he and his friend,
Susan Hellberg, who were headed to an emergency medical technician training
class, ran to Perski's aid and covered him with a blanket. His
face and his back were steaming, Maro said. Everything was
burning: his back, his buttocks, his legs, his face. He said he was
just driving by when he heard the explosion and ran from his car. He
said he was feeling fine, but I assume he was in shock.
of the injured were taken to The Medical Center at Princeton. According
to a nursing supervisor, one was flown to the burn center, another was
admitted in fair condition with first- and second-degree burns of the
face and two were treated for burns and released. The injured were:
Perski, 41, of South Amboy, a trooper assigned to the state police headquarters
in West Trenton, suffered third-degree burns over 45 percent of his
body and was listed in critical condition last night at St. Francis
Medical Center in Trenton.
A hospital spokeswoman said Perski was burned on his face, hands, torso, and upper legs. Moore was listed in fair condition at Hamilton Hospital with first- and second-degree burns, and Garcia was listed in fair condition with superficial facial burns at Helene Fuld Medical Center, nursing supervisors said last night. Stephen Ebersol, 28, of Plainsboro, who suffered second-degree burns to over 50 to 60 percent of his body, was transported from The Medical Center at Princeton to the burn unit of St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston. David Parrish was treated for first-degree burns of the hands and face and was released from The Medical Center at Princeton. Susan Parrish, who suffered first-degree burns of the h ands and face, was admitted to The Medical Center in good condition. An unidentified 17-year-old youth was treated for burns of the hands and face and was released from The Medical Center.