2 major Camden fires leave many concerns

Some of the same firefighters who fought Thursday's vacant warehouse fire in Camden were back on the front lines again Saturday morning fighting an 8-alarm blaze in the 400 block of Winslow Court.

June 13, 2011 4:03:24 PM PDT
Camden firefighters, with their depleted ranks, had to battle two major fires inside 72 hours.

Coincidence or something else?

The causes of both blazes are still under investigation, but Mayor Dana Redd today said she has contacted the New Jersey Attorney General with concerns, though she declined to elaborate.

"At this point, I'm not privileged to discuss those concerns. We will report out as we move forward," Mayor Redd said.

When asked directly if she thought the fires were linked, she replied, ""My concern is the fact that it happened in very short period of time."

The first blaze,a 12-alarmer Thursday afternoon consumed an abandon industrial site on Orchard Street along with adjoining homes.

The second fire, an 8-alarm blaze came early Saturday morning at an old mill complex at 4th and Winslow.

Neighbors there said they had complained to the city that drug users, vagrants and thieves looking for metal often broke into the building. The thieves were often seen using trucks.

"They broke the gate and they were getting metal in pickup trucks," neighbor Mildred Ruiz said.

The police chief says metal theft is a concern at first fire site, as well.

"Probably three weeks prior to the Orchard fire, made an arrest of individuals that were stealing the I-beams out of that factory," Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson said.

"If they see any suspicious activity, they are asked to contact the Camden PD immediately," Mayor Redd said.

Two major fires in three days. Many questions. So far, few answers.