14 November, 1984
Cause Still Sought For Borough Garage Fire
A week after a three alarm fire caused extensive damage to the Borough Garage on Harrison Street. Chief Michael Carnevale said Tuesday that Borough detectives and Mercer County arson investigators have still not been able to determine the exact cause of the early morning blaze. “It is still an active investigation.” Chief Carnevale said.
Two Borough dump trucks were destroyed in the fire, which was first noticed at 4:15 last Wednesday morning. Borough officials have made arrangements to store three other dump trucks, two front end loaders, two pickup trucks, a Jeep and Several riding mowers in the River Road National Guard Armory until repairs can be made.
At a Council meeting the following night, Mayor Barbara Sigmund handed out individual commendations to all members of the three Princeton volunteer fire companies who responded to fire and to members of the surrounding Princeton Junction and Lawrenceville fire departments.
“We were lucky,” observed one firemen “A little longer and we would have lost not only the garage but the firehouse.”
The Hook and Ladder Company building which adjoins the L-shaped garage sustained slight damage when the fire flared again last Wednesday morning, around 8:45, after having first been brought under control about 5:30.
Borough officials have not released an estimate of the total damage but Administrator Mark Gordon said that it Would cost $40,000 or more to replace the two lost trucks.
The fire had the potential of becoming a major catastrophe, Chief Carnevale said, and Fire Chief Clinton Groover credited the estimated 200 firemen who fought the fire with “making a good stop on it.”
The fire was first noticed by a Borough police officer on patrol who had stopped around 4:15 in the municipal parking lot behind the garage to talk with a street sweeper. Both the officer and the employee looked up and saw flames through a window.
According to Chief Groover, flames were shooting through melted plastic roof vents when firemen arrived. The fire was fueled by wood and other inflammable materials inside the building and quickly spread to the roof.
The roof did not collapse but firemen had to cut holes in it and knock out windows to vent the fire, which was confined largely to the center of the building. It was brought under control around 5:30.
Police and fire officials initially traced the origin of the fire to a wooden tool shed inside the rear of the building.
Chief Groover said that the fire was apparently first fueled by motor oils and solvents stored in the shed. What caused it to ignite is what the investigators are still trying to determine. At one time it was feared that gasoline tanks outside the building might explode.
No firemen were injured in fighting the blaze.