Firefighters in Camden, N.J., continue to douse the smoldering rubble that was once a coverall factory at 6th Street and Carl Miller Boulevard. Tuesday night’s two-alarm fire at the site is the city’s fourth multiple-alarm warehouse fire in a month.
In early June, a 12-alarm blaze struck a former Tire Factory warehouse while an eight-alarm fire broke out an abandoned garment factory. A few days later, a six-alarm fire– since identified as arson–tore through a former Concord Chemical factory.
Johnny Davis, who lives across the street from one of the earlier blazes, says it hurts to see this pile of rubble.
“We’re a good city, every city got their own problems, but don’t need nothing like this to add on,” said Davis. “I’m gettin’ tired of them burnin’ down our neighborhood. They gotta catch whoever’s doing this cause it’s getting crazy.”
Camden resident Cassandra Pressley, a public adjuster, saw the latest fire.
“I was on (Interstate) 676 and I saw the flames and I said, ‘Oh my God, another fire.’ I couldn’t believe it because so many people here don’t have insurance,” Pressley said.
Ben Cracolici lives on the block.
“One of the guys noticed that there was a glow coming in through the window and we thought the house was on fire at first,” he said. “And we came out through the front door and there was so much heat there it was unbelievable. The flames were shooting up 10, 15 feet in the air.”
Camden Fire Chief Michael Harper says Tuesday’s blaze is still under investigation.
Some people gathered at the site Wednesday speculate squatters are starting the fires; others say it might be a firefighter.
Neighborhood resident Gene Robinson suspects the building owners might be torching them.
“Even if you say, ‘Well, the druggies or the drug dealers or the fiends around here,’ these fires that they’re blazing, possibly can’t happen from a five dollar bag of crack or somethin’ like that,” he said.
Robinson, who says he believes something bigger is definitely going on here, said he’ll be surprised if this is the last fire.