3-Alarm Fire on East State Street in Trenton

November 20, 2021

Photos and story by: Mike Ratcliffe

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–With the overnight temperature hovering at, if not just below, 30 degrees, Trenton firefighters early today (Saturday, Nov. 20) battled a three-alarm blaze that damaged five houses in the 800 block of East State Street. It was shortly before 2:10 a.m. when Trenton firefighters were dispatched to 868 East State Street, between Chambers Street and Hampton Avenue, for a report of smoke issuing from a structure. First-due firefighters arrived to find a working fire in the middle home of a row of three three-story dwellings (866-870 East State Street). The “All Hands” signal was transmitted and the balance of the first alarm was dispatched. Minutes later, with fire raging on the second and third floors of the original fire building and extending via the cockloft into the attached exposures, a second alarm was ordered. While multiple hoselines were stretched for an aggressive interior attack, other firefighters climbed ladders to ventilate the roof. Not long after ventilation holes were cut and crews evacuated the roof, heavy fire broke through. At one point, Ladder 4’s master stream was charged to darken down the fire. Around 2:35 a.m. an additional engine company was called to the scene for manpower. Then, at 3:27 a.m., Trenton’s last remaining on-duty company – Engine 9 – was called to the scene, along with a mutual aid company (Engine 15) from Hamilton Township, which had previously relocated into Trenton to stand by at Engine 3’s quarters. This elevated the incident to a third alarm. A mutual aid air cascade unit was also requested to the scene from Hamilton. Trenton’s volunteer Signal 22 canteen unit also respond to provide refreshments to the cold, exhausted firefighters. The blaze – which badly damaged the three attached homes at 866, 868 and 870 East State Street and also caused damage to the neighboring houses at 864 and 872 East State Street – was finally declared under control at 4:21 a.m. One person, possibly a resident of one of the burned homes, was reportedly transported to hospital by Trenton Emergency Medical Service personnel shortly after firefighters first arrived, but the nature and extent of the injuries was not known.