Camden Soap Plant Is Swept by Flames

Philadelphia Inquirer – October 21, 1922

$400,000 Loss Suffered in Two-alarm Fire Along Water Front

Fireman Injured in Blaze; Under Control Half Hour After Discovery

Loss estimated at $350,000 to $400,000 was caused by fire which swept the three upper floors of the six-story main building occupied by the soap manufacturing plant of J. Eavenson & Son, at Penn Street, and the Delaware River, Camden, early last night.

Only a half dozen or more of the 400 employees of the concern were in the building when the blaze started, and all have been accounted for. One fireman, Deputy Fire Chief Thomas Nichols [sic], was slightly injured in a fall.

The flames, first observed a few minutes after 7 o’clock, were caused, it is believed, by a short circuit in a belt conveyor on the fourth floor of the structure. Spreading rapidly through the great quantities of wooden packing boxes and oily soap materials, the flames leaped from the fourth to the fifth floor and then to the sixth, necessitating the sounding of two alarms.

Five Men in Plant Make Escape

John Yantry, a watchman, turned in the first alarm, while five men employees of the Eavenson firm quickly made their escape from the burning building. Of the normal quota of 400 employees, more than 300 are girls.

Following the arrival of a majority of Camden’s fire-fighting apparatus on the sounding of the second alarm, Fire Chief Peter Carter took charge, directing the firemen to devote their efforts particularly to saving the group of seven or eight buildings, of which the six-story structure was the centre.

Damage Confined to Three Floors

The fire damage was confined largely to the three upper floors of the burned building, but a large loss was caused by water throughout the lower floors of the structure.

T. A. Snyder, general manager of the Eavenson firm, hastened to the scene of the fire shortly after the first alarm was rung. It was he who placed the loss at $350,000 to $400,000.

The Eavenson factory, which formerly was utilized as a sugar refinery, was swept by fire three years ago with loss amounting to $200,000.

The blaze was visible from many points in this city and others, up and down the Delaware River, attracting thousands to the spot.

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