Rekindles: January 1999

Jan. 1, 1899: ELIZABETH, NJ - A fire broke out in the cellar of the Isham Building at 215 Broadway and spread rapidly throughout the 150-foot-deep structure. Flames raced from office to office and store to store inside the structure. The fire...


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The car barns building was one story, 125 by 985 feet; the ceilings were 23 feet high and a fire wall separated the building into two sections. Flames poured from a pit beneath one of the numerous new streetcars being painted inside the structure. Flames leaped from car to car and the fire was soon burning out of control. With the building being at the northern end of the city most of the fire apparatus had a long response to the scene.

First-arriving Ladder 25 entered the building and made terrific efforts to control the blaze. The fire doors between the two sections of the building had failed to close and fire was threatening this area. Under extreme heat conditions the seven men of the company closed the series of fire doors, cutting off the sure advance of the fire to this area. The truck company officer received burns to his hands and face during this operation.

Four alarms brought 75 firemen manning eight engines, three ladders and three squads to the scene. One engine had traveled nearly six miles to the scene of the fire. Strong winds fanned the flames and caused the flying brands pouring from the building to start several fires some distance from the original building. Losses were estimated at $1.5 million.

Paul Hashagen


Compiled by Paul Hashagen