Belleville, NJ Silver Lake School Fire, Dec 1922


Fire, Starting in Teacher's Desk, Sweeps Belleville (N. J.) Building That Housed 1,100 Pupils.


The Silver Lake School,officially Public School No. 4, at Belleville, was completely destroyed by fire yesterday with a loss of $300,000. School authorities said that it would cost $500,000 under present conditions, to replace it. The fire was believed to have been of incendiary origin.

Belleville firemen were called before dawn to a fire in a one-story frame building in Bloomfield Avenue, at Belmont Avenue, Belleville, containing three stores. Damage to the building, owned by John E. Caprio, was estimated at $20,000. Returning, the firemen were called to the school fire.

The flames had made such headway in the school building when the firemen arrived that they at once called the Newark and Bloomfield departments, the former sending seven companies and the latter three.

The school was built in 1902, and has had three additions, the latest being completed this year. It had thirty class rooms, accommodating 1,100 pupils, with thirty teachers. There were extra rooms for teachers, and an assembly room on the third floor. There were extra rooms for teachers, and an assembly room on the third floor. There were no fire-escapes required by law, the building being technically a two-story one. Only the walls were left standing.

The fire started in a teacher's desk on the second floor, and instead of spreading laterally, as would be expected, it shot up to the ceiling, suggesting a chemical. John Hunt, the janitor, said he made a tour of the building at 5:30 P. M., Saturday, and found everything all right. The fire was discovered by John Ungaro, a watchman at the plant of the Edison Chemical Company, in Belmont Avenue, near by.

Three firemen were overcome by smoke but quickly revived. They were John J. McCoy of Chemical Company No. 1, Belleville, and William A. Cullen and James R. McCormick of the Valley Hose Company, of Belleville.

The Board of Education held a special meeting to consider facilities for taking care of the 1,100 pupils of the school.

The New York Times, New York, NY 18 Dec 1922