January 8, 2022
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Four working structure fires, including one involving part of the abandoned Mercer Medical Center, kept members of the Trenton Fire Department busy this afternoon (Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023).
It was about 2 p.m. when the first of multiple 911 calls was received by the city’s communications center reporting smoke coming from the old Mercer Medical Center property. The hospital, the front of which has the street address of 446 Bellevue Avenue, closed its doors in December 2013.
Firefighters from Engines 1, 10, and 3, Ladder 4, and Rescue 1 were dispatched following the first 911 call. Other fire companies that would normally have been closer, including Engine 8, Engine 9, and Ladder 1, were unavailable as they were already committed to other assignments.
Heavy smoke was showing from part of the fenced-in complex when Engine 1 arrived. After forcing entry, firefighters realized the fire was better accessed from the rear of the old hospital off Rutherford Avenue.
Initially it was believed that the fire was only burning on the exterior of the structure but then it was determined there was heavy fire in a section of the basement.
Firefighters battled the blaze using multiple hoselines and the aerial master stream from Ladder 4’s bucket. Engine 8, having cleared up from an earlier medical assignment, responded to Rutherford Avenue and was assigned rapid intervention team duties.
At 2:30 p.m., as the blaze at the derelict hospital was still being fought, other 911 calls started coming in reporting another structure fire on the opposite end of the city at 1221 South Broad Street. With Engine 9 and Ladder 1 still busy on other assignments, the only available on-duty city companies – Engines 6 and 7 and Ladder 2 – were dispatched.
Engine 7 arrived and reported heavy smoke showing from the top floor of a three-story home. As Engine 7 stretched a hoseline to attack the fire and Engine 6 laid a large diameter supply line to a nearby hydrant, Engines 3 and Rescue 1 were released from the hospital fire and Engine 9 and Ladder 1 cleared up from their earlier assignments and all responded to the South Broad Street fire.
An engine company and truck company from Hamilton Township also responded to the South Broad Street fire and stood by at the scene in case needed.
The blaze at 1221 South Broad Street was declared under control at 2:55 p.m.. Red Cross was requested to the scene to assist displaced residents.
As soon as individual companies cleared up from the South Broad Street fire, they either returned to the scene of the hospital fire to help with overhaul or they were dispatched to other emergency assignments, including a reported natural gas odor on Bellevue Avenue and a carbon monoxide incident on Edgewood Avenue. The fire at the old hospital was declared under control at 3:10 p.m.
Then, about 4:30 p.m., another structure fire was reported at 521 Emory Avenue. Responding to that job were numerous units including Engines 7, 6, 3 and 10, Ladder 2 and Rescue 1, as well as a ladder truck from Yardley, PA. and engine from Bordentown City that had relocated to Trenton Fire Headquarters to help cover the city while Trenton firefighters were busy handling the earlier fires and other assignments.
Firefighters arrived to find a working kitchen fire. That blaze was quickly knocked down and declared under control at 4:48 p.m.
The same shift of firefighters fought yet another blaze on Sunday. About 11:45 p.m., the fourth working fire of the day was reported in the 100 block of Cleveland Avenue.
The fire was in 110 Cleveland Avenue and was vacant, boarded up structure. Heavy smoke on arrival and firefighters had to force entry to extinguish the fire. Fire was on first floor, and extended to second floor, interior stairs compromised
Arson investigators called to the scene and fire was placed under control 12:37 a.m.
Fire above at old Mercer Medical Center Bellevue Avenue
Above photos from Emory Avenue fire.
Above photos from South Broad Street fire.
Above photos from 110 Cleveland fire.
Additional photos above from today’s fires by Brian McCarthy