Shortly after 3 pm on December 15, 2004 calls were coming in for an apartment house fire in the 3100 block of Westfield Avenue in the East Camden section of the city. There were also reports of people trapped.
Engine Company 9 with Captain Jim Ryan was first in. Captain Ryan reported he had and 3 story frame apartment house with heavy fire on the first floor and was going in service with 1 3/4 lines.
Battalion Chief Larry Wilson called for the second alarm.
Ladder Company 3 with Captain Sammy Balakas was coming in as Engine 9's members made their way in the front door knocking down the flames. Ladder 3 members made a quick search for and trapped victims. All occupants were out of the structure.
This was a 80 plus year old frame building and the fire had made it way up to the second and third floors causing heavy smoke conditions. At some points you could not see the building from the street.
Firefighters stayed with an interior attack pulling ceilings and after 30 minutes the fire was placed under control by Deputy Chief Mark Kogut.
The Red Cross was called in to help the over 20 occupants. Firefighters remained on the scene for an extended time for overhaul.