Tree downs wire, leads to church fire

25 July 1979

On Birch Avenue,
Tree downs wire, leads to church fire

by Tom Lederer
Staff Writer

A Rube Goldberg set of events was set off when a tree fell on Birch Avenue last Wednesday.

It led to a general alarm fire at an empty former church building and bar at 11 Birch Ave.

A tree in front of the home occupied by Hester Phox, 9 Birch Ave., fell around 10:10 a.m. following a storm, damaging the roof, sidewalk and power and telephone lines. The home is owned by The Princeton Packet.

A few minutes later a police officer observed smoke coming from the adjoining former church building at 11 Birch Ave. and a general alarm was sounded at 10:40 a.m.

All three fire companies and 30 men responded. According to Fire Chief Edward Kopp, a power surge and back surge which occurred before the electrical wires to the church broke caused a short circuit and the resulting fire in the building.

The fire burned the center floor joists and much of the basement area. The entire building was filled with smoke and there was some water damage.

No significant structural damage occurred and there was nothing of value in the building at the time, Chief Kopp said.

The church building is owned by Florence Kahn and has been proposed for conversion into a medical office.

Photo Captions:


Falling tree set off fire
An electrical fire, set off when a tree fell in front of an adjacent house, burned this abandoned church building and former bar on Birch Avenue last Wednesday. See story, page 3A.
(Mark Czajkowski photo)


A TREE rests against the home of Floyd Phox, 11 Birch Ave., following last Wednesday’s wind storm. Short circuiting electrical wires set off a fire at an empty former church building next door. ( Mark Czajkowski photos)

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