Shortly after 10 pm on April 6, 2003, Camden firefighters were dispatched to 27 Marlton Pike in the East Camden section of the city for an occupied dwelling fire.
Engine Company 9, Ladder 3, and Battalion Chief 2, Jim Alexander, were the first Units to arrive. Chief Alexander reported that he had a 2 1/2 story frame dwelling with heavy smoke and fire conditions showing. Members of Engine Co. 9, lead by Captain Larry Buckingham, advanced a 1 3/4 inch line in the front door, knocking down the bulk of the fire. As they worked their way through the hallway to the cellar stairs, they were greeted with a huge blast of flames. They later discovered there was a broken line to the natural gas meter, which had burned away in the basement.
The gas forced them to back out to make an external attack. Chief Alexander radioed that he was using all hands and requested the gas company for immediate response. Fearing that the fire would spread to a nearby row of seven occupied dwellings, a 2nd Alarm was requested.
Responding to the 2nd Alarm were Car 3, Deputy Chief Greg Murphy, Car 2, Deputy Chief of Operations Tom Quinn and Battalion Chief Paul Matyjasik.
Car 2 requested an additional Ladder Company to respond. There were extremely heavy smoke conditions as the fire blazed on.
About 30 minutes into the fire, the gas company was able to turn off the gas at the street, but by this time, the house was heavily involved. Two ladder companies were in service along with Tower Engine 9 Squirt and six hand lines. At the height of the fire, a large section of the side wall of the dwelling collapsed but did not endanger any firefighters.
There was only a two foot alley separating the building from the row of dwellings. Firefighters were able to keep the fire from entering the dwellings. About 1 hour later, Car 2 placed the fire under control. One firefighter was treated for injuries when a section of the rear shed roof collapsed on him.
Firefighters remained on the scene throughout the night overhauling and the fire is under investigation by the Camden City Fire Marshal's Office.