News From January 1980

Princeton Packet
9 January 1980

House gutting blaze blamed on fireplace

by Michael Holcombe
Staff Writer

Police believe a fireplace may have been the cause of a blaze that gutted a Ewing Street home early Tuesday morning.

Following an investigation by Ptl. William Hunter of the Borough Police Arson Squad, police announced Tuesday afternoon that the fire may have originated from that fireplace which, according to Fire Chief William Shields, had an extensive creosote buildup and had been used just the previous evening.

Mr. and Mrs. Nib Bach, who reside at and own the home at 198 Ewing St., managed to escape from the burning house without injury when they were awakened by the smell of smoke.

Police first received word of the fire at 3:25 a.m. when it was reported by a neighbor. Ptls. Peter Hanley and William Nathan responded and immediately activated the plektron to alert firefighters and the first aid squad.

By that time the police had received several more calls reporting the fire and at 3:26 a.m. a general alarm was sounded. All fire companies and two
first aid vehicles arrived to find the house engulfed in flames. By that time, however, the Bachs had already made their exit from the house.

According to first assistant chief Ralph Hulit Jr., the fire was under control approximately 20 minutes after firemen began fighting the blaze. The last truck returned to the firehouse at approximately 5:30 a.m.

The rear of the house, the living room and addition where the fire started, was gutted while the remainder of the house suffered smoke and heat damage. The Bachs have taken up temporary residence with relatives.

It was the second fire call that evening for the Princeton department as it answered a call at 417 Alexander St. earlier that night. That fire started when radiant heat from a wood burning stove ignited a pile of wood which was stored too close to the stove inside the house.

Local firemen caution area residents to be careful when using a wood fire for heat.

“People should use caution when starting a fire, particularly if they haven’t had their chimney cleaned recently,” says Mr. Hulit.

Town Topics
9 January 1980

Topics of the Town

FIRE DAMAGES HOME At 198 Ewing Street. A one- story home at 198 Ewing Street was extensively damaged Tuesday by an early morning fire. No one was injured.

The owners and only occupants at the time were Mr. and Mrs. Nils V. Bach. They were awakened by the odor of smoke and had to flee the house. “They were very fortunate to get out,” said police chief Michael Car- nevale.

Police first received a call from a neighbor at 3:25 a.m. reporting the house on fire. When Ptl. Peter Hanley and Ptl. William Nathan responded, they reported the house engulfed in flames. Police received numerous other calls, Chief Carnevale added, and a general alarm was sounded at 3:26.

Although the investigation by fire officials and Ptl. William Hunter of the police arson squad into the cause of the fire is still continuing, Chief Carnevale reported the fire may have originated from a fireplace in a rear room.

The back room where the fireplace was located was completely gutted. The roof and walls of that room and another room are gone, he said. The Bachs had had a fire in the fireplace earlier in the evening, police said.

All Princeton’s fire companies and the First Aid Squad responded.

Garage Fire. There were two small Fires reported last week by Township police.
Ten firemen responded to a 2:58 alarm Sunday afternoon for a garage at 552 Lake Drive, where ashes from a fireplace caught fire, scorching a lawn mower. Firemen spent 23 minutes at the scene.

A malfunctioning wood stove at 417 Basin Street (off lower Alexander) sent three fire trucks and 20 firemen to the scene.

They report no fire but smoke damage throughout the house. The alarm was sounded at 8:55 Monday evening.


Town Topics
25 January 1980


Causing Power Outage. A 20-year-old White Plains, N.Y., driver, who, police say,  apparently feel asleep at the wheel, went off the Princeton- Kingston roadway Sunday morning and sheared a Public Service pole, causing a power shortage in the area.

Police report the 1980 sedan of Sadler J. Ramsdell left the roadway after rounding a curve north of Riverside Drive and struck the pole, shearing it completely. The car then skidded sideways approximately 50 feet, flipped over on its roof and spun around 180 degrees. It continued its slide into a second utility pole, coming to rest with its rear bumper against the pole.

Mr. Ramsdell was taken by ambulance to Princeton Medical Center for treatment of lacerations of the face and a fractured jaw. His car was a total loss.

Police called for a wrecker, for a fire engine to wash down the spilled gasoline, and notified Public Service. Power was restored in the area around 9:30. The accident occurred at 7:45.

Mr. Ramsdell told police that he had been driving most of the previous night and he was fatigued. He had no recollection of the accident, police said. There were no skid marks.

In his report, Ptl. Virgil Angelini noted that, based on the evidence at the scene and the extent and nature of the damage, the driver was apparently asleep at the time of the accident. He charged Mr. Ramsdell with careless driving.

9 January 1980

Off to a running start!

Joe Dermen, left, president of the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad, accepts, on behalf of the all-volunteer organization, a donation of $500, from Peter Clark, director of the ”Half Marathon” and “Run for Fun” races held in Princeton this past fall under the sponsorship of The First National Bank of Princeton. Money came from fees posted by 1,953 entrants in the third annual competition. Plans are now being made for the 4th annual to be held later in 1980.

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