25 July 1979
Building set afire
When Winds Topple Tree, Wires. The roof of a home at 11 Birch Avenue was damaged, and the building next door at 9 Birch was set afire last week, when winds blew down a large tree opposite the house. No one was injured.
Mrs. Hester Phox, who with her husband rents the house from the Princeton Packet, told police she heard a loud noise at 10 minutes after 10 last Wednesday morning during a rainstorm. In checking, she discovered a large tree had fallen against the house.
The tree pulled down power lines and telephone wires. The sudden power surge caused the wires to short, setting fire to the floor joists in the building next door, according to Assistant Fire Chief William Shields.
Most of the fire was confined to the basement but the entire building suffered smoke and water damage. Ptl. Mario Musso, who responded to Mrs. Phox’s call, said firemen were hampered by the heavy rain.
The building, used most recently by a religious group, was unoccupied. Previously, it had been the site of Starr’s Inn Bar. Police said it had been sold recently and identified the owner as Florence Kahn, 255 Russell Road.
A general alarm was sounded at 10:40, sending 30 firemen from all three Princeton volunteer fire companies to the scene, where they remained until 12:35. Public Service and Bell Telephone officials were notified to repair the broken wires and the Township Road department was called in to remove the fallen tree.
CHAIN REACTION: Last Wednesday’s heavy rain brought winds which blew down this big tree on Birch Avenue. The falling tree carried telephone and power lines down with it, setting fire to a building next door. Story this page.
A DIFFERENT kind of inspection awaits fireman Red Glover, the borough’s building subcode official, as he waits outside the burning church building while electrical service was confirmed to be completely shut off.