Trenton, NJ (Mercer) – In a valiant display of bravery, city firefighters battled a three-alarm inferno amidst frigid weather conditions on Wednesday evening, resulting in the destruction of four vacant rowhouses and damage to two occupied attached buildings. The incident unfolded shortly after 8:35 p.m. when numerous calls inundated the city’s 911 communications center, alerting authorities to a fire in the vicinity of Dye and South Broad streets. However, reports varied, with some indicating one house was ablaze while others claimed up to three were affected, further pinpointing the location as Dye and Genesee streets. Given the deluge of emergency calls, a full first alarm was promptly activated, summoning a fleet of firefighters and equipment to the scene. Engines 3, 7, 10, and 6, Ladders 2 and 4, Rescue 1, Special Services 1, and both on-duty battalion chiefs were swiftly dispatched to engage in the arduous firefighting task.
Upon arrival, firefighters were confronted with the daunting sight of thick smoke billowing from the upper floors of the row of four unoccupied structures spanning from 115 to 121 Dye Street. Wasting no time, multiple hoselines were instantaneously deployed to tackle the raging blaze. However, the firefighting efforts were momentarily impeded by the presence of smoldering overhead power lines. Consequently, a second alarm reverberated at 8:45 p.m., summoning the additional resources of Engine 9 to the scene. The situation further escalated when a third alarm was activated shortly before 9:10 p.m., prompting the deployment of all remaining on-duty city fire companies, namely Engines 1 and 8, as well as Ladder 1. As the fire reached its peak, the incident commander reported that nine hoselines were extended, with an aerial master stream channeling water onto the flames from above. To ensure an ample water supply, several area streets were cordoned off by the police, facilitating the laying of large-diameter hoselines connected to various fire hydrants.
The extreme cold weather, with temperatures hovering around a bone-chilling 10 degrees Fahrenheit, compounded by the wind chill factor, posed additional challenges. Water runoff from the hoselines, hydrants, and fire apparatus rapidly froze, creating treacherously icy conditions. Consequently, Trenton Emergency Medical Service dispatched multiple crews to the scene to provide immediate medical assistance in the event of any injuries. While a few firefighters were observed slipping on the ice, there were no immediate reports of casualties. In a demonstration of unity, mutual aid firefighters from Hamilton, Lawrence, and Ewing townships promptly arrived to man the vacant Trenton firehouses and offer support to the city. These mutual aid cover companies were also called upon to respond to several other emergencies throughout the evening, including a vehicular accident that transpired when a vehicle overturned on Route 29 near Calhoun Street. As a precautionary measure, Hamilton Fire Department’s Truck 10-1 was summoned to standby at the Roebling Market, situated a block away from the fire scene on Dye Street, after one of the city’s ladder trucks encountered mechanical difficulties. Signal 22, the city’s volunteer fire and police canteen unit, played a vital role by serving firefighters and police officers hot chocolate and coffee throughout the operation.
The inferno was finally declared under control at 10:24 p.m. Regrettably, the fire engendered severe damage, engulfing the four rowhouses in its destructive path. Additionally, the occupied residence at 123 Dye Street suffered from both smoke and fire damage. Meanwhile, the upper floors of the last attached property in the row, an apartment located at 125 Dye Street, reportedly sustained considerable smoke-related impairments. Notably, this conflagration transpired in close proximity to a previous three-alarm blaze that decimated a large commercial building on the corner of Dye and South Broad streets on October 13, 2021. Authorities from the Trenton Fire Department, alongside city police, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, and other relevant agencies, promptly initiated a comprehensive investigation into the incident.