Skip to comments.Three children, three firefighters die in Gloucester City blaze (NJ, across from Philly)
Posted on 07/04/2002 3:41:45 PM PDT by LenS
GLOUCESTER CITY - Three-year-old twins, their five-year-old brother and three firefighters tried to rescue them died early today when a multi-story home caught fire and collapsed.
One of the victims, a 39-year-old firefighter, proposed to his girlfriend at a Fourth of July fireworks display hours before the fire started, sad Gov. McGreevey, who visited the scene at midday.
City firefighters passed directly in front of the duplex last night during a holiday parade.
The roof of the home collapsed trapping eight firefighters inside, but five were dug out by their comrades, Acting Camden County Prosecutor James P. Lynch said.
The firemen who were killed were identified as Chief James Sylvester of the Mount Epraim department, a 17-year-veteran, Deputy Mount Ephraim Chief John West and Thomas Stewart of the Gloucester City department. The names of the chldren were not released as of this evening.
The children's mother was taken to Crozier-Chester Burn Center in Chester, said Greg Reinert, a spokesman for the Prosecutor's office. The woman's condition was not immediately available.
Ten other people, including eight firefighters, were taken to Cooper Hospital-University Medical Center in Camden, where they were being treated for unspecified injuries.
McGreevey stopped at Cooper on his way to the fire scene. He said the three firefighters made "the supreme sacrifice," and promised the state would pay for their children's college educations.
Gloucester City Fire Chief Bill Glassman said one firefighter was from his department, and the other two were from Mount Ephraim.
The fire was out shortly after 5 a.m., and rescuers used backhoes to clear debris while they searched for victims. When a firefighter's body was removed about 8 a.m., police and firefighters lined up several rows deep and saluted.
Authorities said the fire was being investigated as a criminal incident, but there was no evidence it had been deliberately set.
The victims' names were not immediately released.
Neighbors said the home was rented by a family that had lived there less than a year.
Witnesses said the flames melted aluminum siding on John's Pizzeria, which is across the street, and damaged a nearby traffic light.
Independence Day festivities in Gloucester City and Mount Ephraim were canceled. Gloucester City is about five miles south of Philadelphia.
Contributing to this article were Geoff Mulvihill of the Associated Press and Elisa Ung of the Inquirer Staff.
I pray for those poor children and the brave fireman who sacrificed themselves trying to save them.