Camden Courier-Post – April 28, 1962
Deputy Fire Marshal John Gaffney said a man who declined to identify himself reported seeing two boys about 14 years of age, running from the building only minutes before the fire was discovered. Gaffney said he has begun an investigation into the cause of the blaze and to locate the youths.
There were no injuries reported but members of Engine Company 8 at 6th st and Kaighns ave., who were among the first on the scene, escaped being burned seriously and losing a 1,000-gallon pumper after they were engulfed in a ball of flame that shot from the north wall of the structure.
Heavy black smoke could be seen over a wide area.
The first of three alarms was reported at 6:10 am when Donald Fuhrer, and employe [sic] of Modern Hard Chrome, located across the street from the building, spotted smoke over the roof of the warehouse.
Two more alarms were reported at 6:15 and 6:18 am as the fire raged out of control, endangering Modern Hard Chrome and Modern Auto Body plants, both of which are adjacent to the factory building.
Ball of Flame
Farrow said when he first arrived fire was burning on the south side of the building near the roof. He said the pumper went to Atlantic ave. and firemen were hooking up to a hydrant when a ball of flame shot out and engulfed the men and truck. He said Robert Thomas, driver of the pumper, was forced to put his heavy coat over his head to protect himself so that he could drive the pumper out of the area. Farrow said the men didn’t have time to unhook the hoses.
Fire Chief Edward MacDowell said the building was condemned by the city last summer after a section of the roof collapsed spilling bricks and wooden timbers to the street and sidewalk.
Licks Utility Poles
Mild warm air fanned the blaze and kept heavy black smoke close to the ground and for long periods of time firemen worked in total blackness shifting two-and-a-half-inch water lines from one area of the building to another.
During the early minutes of the blaze, fire licked at utility poles on Atlantic ave. and burned electric wires carrying the only source of power to West Jersey Hospital about six blocks away. The power to the hospital was not cut off.
Before the blaze was declared under control at about 7 o’clock, flames shot 125 feet out from the east side of the building setting small grass fires on vacant land near S. 7th st.
Firemen used two aerial ladders along with 10 other pieces of equipment and 50 men to fight the blaze. The rescue squad also stood by as a precautionary measure.
Chief MacDowell said the building was more than 50 years old. It was once the site of the city’s first supermarket known as the Giant Tiger.
The fire chief said the city has been trying to get the building demolished but was having difficulty because of the number of owners involved.