14 January 1976
PHS closet fire hides for hour from firemen
by Tom Lederer
A large closet containing theatrical equipment at Princeton High School was completely burned by an intense fire during the early morning hours of Saturday. Jan 10.
No cause of the fire has been found and it has been termed of suspicious origin by borough Police.
The 10-foot-long closet was located under the auditorium stage in the high school basement. The illusive fire was actually discovered nearly an hour alter the initial automatic alarm was sounded at 3:46 a.m., according to borough police.
The closet contained costumes, scenery and props, all of which were destroyed. It apparently started above the floor level among the clothing, according to borough police.
A sprinkler system apparently helped contain the fire within the closet. After it was extinguished nearly two feet of water covered the basement floor.
The closet ceiling and most of its walls were burned through and the cement ceiling of the basement was scorched. The intensity of the fire melted a coffee pot in the closet, according to police.
After the automatic alarm was sounded at 3:46 am the outside of the building was searched by police but no fire was found. Building and grounds superintendent William Karsh, who is also fire chief, was called, and the building was entered.
A smoke condition was discovered in the tunnel area that carries heating pipes, and the boiler room was found to be full of smoke but no fire was found there.
Heavy smoke was then discovered in the north-south corridor leading to the auditorium.
Air packs were donned by firemen and the smoke filled hall and auditorium were entered. The fire was located shortly thereafter, largely from the sound of the sprinklers operating.
Damage was confined largely to the closet, there being little material on the floor. The auditorium and hall areas exposed to smoke were deodorized by the school’s maintenance contractor to remove the odor of the smoke.