JOSEPH SPARKS was born in Pennsylvania on September 3, 1883 to John H. Sparks, a blacksmith, and his wife Mary. He was the third of ten children. His parents moved to New Jersey around 1886. The 1900 Census shows the family at 434 South 3rd Street in South Camden. Before the year was out they had moved to 515 Line Street. When the Census was taken in 1910 Joseph Sparks was living with his parents and seven siblings at 515 Line Street. The 1916 City Directory shows him at 416 Beckett Street.
Joseph Sparks served with the Camden Fire Department for seven years, from April 6, 1910 until March 23, 1918. He was Junior Captain of Engine Company 7 when he left the Fire Department to take a position with the Camden Police Department in 1918. He was then married and living at 451 Line Street. The 1920 Census list him and his wife at 435 Beckett Street. By 1921 they had moved to 605 West Street. The 1923 City Dorectory shows that their last move took them to 20 North 28th Street in East Camden not long afterwards.
Sadly, Joseph Sparks wife Mary Emma bore no children before her passing in November of 1924. Joseph Sparks died of spinal meningitis on March 19, 1928. His last address was 20 North 28th Street.
June 24, 1910
|Philadelphia Inquirer - November 13, 1910|
|F. Morse Archer - George V. Murry - Martin Carrigan - Daniel J. Hilland
Joseph Sparks - John Stockton - Charles D. Crane - Joseph Wagner
Camden Post-Telegram * January 2, 1913
A. Todd - John W. Kelly Jr. -
John H. Lutts -
K. Buzine - James
Joseph Sparks - George Boone - Roy A. Smith - Edward Simpson - Henry C. Knowles
Samuel S. Elfreth - George P. Cox - Walter W. Browning - George B. Wade - John A. Stockton
Joseph F. Ernst - John A. Dold - Josiah Sage - Daniel Smith - Arthur Wingate - Joseph T. Johnson
Harry Hankins - William Laird - William Elberson - John H. Lennox - Martin Carrigan - Charles Cook
Harry Selby - Herman O. Kreher - Daniel P. McConnell - William Howell Tatem
Harry C. Anderson - Steward Bakley - Joseph Maxwell
William Robinson - Richard Sauer - John Watson - Albert Glanders - Ladder Company 1
Charles Menke - Edward S. Gahan - Engine Company 7 - Engine Company 2
Camden Fire Department - 1914 Chief Engineer's Report
Camden Post-Telegram - June 26, 1916
Carter - Louis Neuman
Philadelphia Inquirer - March 23, 1918
B. Carter - Harry B. Maxwell - Allen
Palmer - Louis Neumann
Camden Daily Courier * January 18, 1922
| POLICE TO PROBE $200,000
KAIGHN AVE. FIRE
FIRE CAPTAIN MAY DIE, FOUR OTHERS INJURED; DAMAGE IS $200,000
Economy Store and Other Buildings Near Broadway Swept by Flames Early This Morning-
Falling Debris Carries Men Through Roof And Into Cellar- Sleeping Inmates of Apartments Roused and Invalid Carried to Safety- Mayor Sees Rescues
Mayor Ellis has ordered an investigation to determine the cause of the $2000,000 fire which swept the properties at 427 and 429 Kaighn Avenue and caused injury to five firemen, one of whom may be fatally hurt.
The fire centered about the property occupied by the Economy Store, formerly Handle’s, and quickly spread to four adjoining buildings.
The fireman whose recovery is despaired of is Captain Martin B. Carrigan, of Engine Company No. 2, Fifth and Arch Streets. Carrigan, who lives at 618 West Street, is suffering from a fractured skull and severe burns and cuts of the face, legs, and body. He is unconscious at Cooper Hospital.
The firemen were injured when a wall, weakened by the intense heat, crumbled and crashed through a roof upon which they were standing, dragging them through the floor below, and into a cellar. Sensational rescues followed as police, firemen, and citizens with bare hands tore at the hot debris. The men were quickly extricated and carried to the street.
“We certainly shall investigate this fire,” the Mayor declared today. “Just what was the cause and who is to blame has not been determined but there will be a thorough investigation.”
“There have been too many of these fires during the past few weeks” continued the mayor. “Surely all of them did not just happen and I am sure there has been someone responsible in one or two of the fires.”
The conflagration was one of the most spectacular of a series of large fires that have visited the city in the past six weeks. The block in which it occurred- Kaighn Avenue between Broadway and Fourth Street is one of the most prominent business squares in Camden.
Flames shot 200 feet in the air, giving the sky a fiery hue and attracted attention for miles before the firemen brought it under control. The flame-lit sky was clearly seen in Philadelphia, Merchantville, East Camden, Gloucester and other communities.
More than a score of families living in the vicinity were forced to flee from their homes in scant attire when the fire threatened them. They were cared for by neighbors.
Fireman George Boone, 46 years old, of Engine Company No. 2, also is in a serious condition. He is suffering from burns of the right hand, right thigh and foot and probable internal injuries. Boone lives at 607 Mount Vernon Street.
The other injured foremen are:
John Voll, 22 years old, 509 Royden Street: both hands badly burned.
C.J. Andrus, aged 31 years, 570 Mount Vernon Street: burns of hands and legs.
Harold Lorang, 29 years old, 19 Hudson Street: burns of right hand and legs and sprained ankle.
Firemen Prove Heroes
Carrigan and Boone are in the hospital. The other firemen were discharged after their wounds were dressed. After being released from the hospital they returned to the scene of the fire and insisted upon continuing their duties. Chief Peter B. Carter, however, ordered them home.
Most of the loss was suffered by the Economy Store. A few charred walls remain of the large building. The interior was completely gutted. It was estimated today that the damage to that property will total $60,000 At least $50,000 damage, it was said, was done to the stock.
Morris Handle, local theatrical man, who owns the building, declared today that the property was insured for $30,000. “My loss will be quite heavy,” said Mr. Handle. “The insurance will not pay one-half the property damage.”
The adjoining building at 431 Kaighn Avenue is occupied by Dr. S.I. Yubas, optometrist, and L.R. Yubas, his father, a jeweler.
Invalid is Rescued
The rear and upper floors of the Yubas property were gutted and the stock sustained a heavy loss, due to water and smoke. The damage will total $40,000, Mr. Yubas estimated today.
Five persons who were
asleep on the upper floors of the Yubas dwelling had narrow escapes.
They were awakened by Samuel Goldstein, haberdasher, 417 Kaighn
Avenue, who discovered the fire in the Economy Store and
turned in the alarm. Mrs. L.R. Yubas, an invalid, was rescued with
The property occupied
by Mrs. Sadie Bodner, a widow, at 433 Kaighn
Avenue, as a house furnishings store, was scorched and also
damaged by water and smoke.
Adjoining the Economy Store on the west at 425 Kaighn Avenue is a vacant one-story structure, formerly occupy by the United Beef Company. Firemen were on the roof of that building when the west wall of the Economy Store collapsed. The wall tumbled down on the small roof and hurled the firemen through a hole in the roof, through the floor and then into the cellar.
Several Stores Damaged
Three policemen, Joseph Sparks, Thomas Cheeseman, and George Hill- and several spectators braved the fire and smoke to rescue the trapped firemen.
The property at 423 Kaighn Avenue, occupied by the Charles Jamison Department Store, was damaged in the rear and the stock ruined by water and smoke. The Kresge Five-and-Ten-Cent Store, at 519-531 Kaighn Avenue, was also damaged by water.
Louis Richelson, who
owns the properties from 519 to 525 Kaighn
Avenue, was unable to estimate his loss today.
spectators, who were watching the fire from the opposite side of the
street, shuddered as they saw a brick wall, weakened by the intense
heat, totter and sway. Before the firemen on the smaller roof below
could scurry to safety, it collapsed.
A groan escaped the
crowd as they heard the cries of the entrapped firemen and the
deafening thud of the brocks as they landed on the roof where the
firemen were at work.
As the full weight of
the brocks struck the roof, it caved in forming a gaping hole. The
firemen were literally swept into the opening.
The bricks tumbled
down, causing another hole in the floor between the firs story and the
cellar and dragging the imperiled firemen into the cellar with
Mayor Charles H. Ellis was among the spectators who witnessed the collapse of the wall. Other officials were Chief James H. Long, of the Water Department; Fire Chief Carter, Assistant Police Chief Edward S. Hyde, Captain Lewis Stehr of the Second Police District, and Street Commissioner Alfred L. Sayers.
Firemen Under Debris
the peril of the trapped firemen, Policemen Sparks, Cheeseman
and Hill, together with a dozen other spectators, rushed across the
street to the vacant store. They rushed through the smoke and fire,
leaped into the cellar and 5reached the struggling firemen.
Sparks, the first to
leap into the cellar, reached
Voll, who had been pinned beneath a pile of debris and was
pleading to be rescued. The policeman feverishly extricated Voll from
his precarious position and carried him out into the street to
had accidentally fallen into the cellar and, though himself injured,
groped about in the dark until he found Boone, whom he dragged
out of the cellar in his arms.
The five firemen were
carried to a waiting police ambulance and rushed to Cooper Hospital. Carrigan
was unconscious. He haws a slim fighting chance to recover.
Carrigan was promoted to a captaincy the first of the year. He is popular among his comrades and has the reputation of being a fearless fireman.
Mayor Praises Firemen
Mayor Ellis praised the work of the firemen and the bravery of the policemen who had risked their lives to effect the rescue.
“Never did I see such remarkable work” said the Mayor. “When I arrived at the scene, it looked as if the whole block was doomed. The flames were shooting upward and the whole sky seemed lit up. The firemen tackled their job with dispatch and courage. I was proud of them. They knew their business and showed it by confining it to a comparatively small area. The work of the police also was commendable.
Mr. Goldstein discovered the fire shortly before midnight.
“I had just left my home at 417 Kaighn Avenue,” explained Mr. Goldstein, “intending to get a soda. As I passed the Economy Store I noticed strong odor of smoke. I peered into the glass doorway of the store. I immediately saw the place was afire.”
Rescues Sleeping Family
“Then I ran back to my store” continued Mr. Goldstein, “and I telephoned police headquarters. I went out again and returned to the scene. I remembered that the Yubas family were asleep on the second and third floors and rapped on the doors. Mr. Yubas came down in a bathrobe. He was not aware of the fire.”
The six persons asleep in the Yubas home were Dr. Yubas, Mr. And Mrs. L.R. Yubas, Bernard Helfand, Miss Bertha Cuden and Anna Recowitz, a domestic.
Mrs. Yubas, who is recovering from an illness, was too weak to make her way outside through the smoke. Assisted by her husband, Policemen Becker and Cheeseman and Constable John Cunningham, Mrs. Yubas was half carried downstairs, and out through the rear of the building to safety.
Blaze Had Big Start
“The fire had gained such rapid headway,” said Sergeant Thomas Cunningham, “that when the firemen arrived, smoke was actually issuing from cracks in the sidewalks and between the cobbles near the trolley tracks.”
The second and third floors of 419 to 423 Kaighn Avenue are occupied by private families as apartments. In the rear were number of frame dwellings. More than a score of families were obliged to leave their homes in scant attire when the firemen began playing hose upon their properties as a precaution against the fire spreading.
Mrs. Catherine Fox, 410 Sycamore Street, and Mrs. E. Chambers, 412 Sycamore Street, whose homes are in the rear of the Economy Store property, had removed part of the furniture to the street. Even after firemen assured them the danger of their homes catching on fire was over, the women and children could hardly be persuaded to return.
Crumbling walls and cracking of glass hampered the foremen in their work and made their task hazardous. The firemen were further handicapped by the big start the fire had gained. Despite this, they stuck dangerously close to the flames.
To play hose upon the fire to advantage, several firemen scaled the outside walls of adjoining properties and reached cornices, from which they directed streams of water.
High Wind Fanned Flames
A high wind gave them great difficulty. A number of times, when the firemen seemed to have the fire under control, the flames burst out afresh and compelled them to retreat. Then the reflection would light up the sky overhead.
Water Chief Long gave the firemen great service in maintaining the water at a high pressure to ensure facility in getting the streams to play upon the flames.
Kaighn Avenue, between Broadway and Fourth Street, was literally alive with residents and passers-by attracted by the flames. Included among the spectators were scores of persons who came from Philadelphia and distant points, in the belief the blaze was much more serious.
According to the estimate of the loss made today, the insurance on the property and stock damaged by the fore will not pay for one-half the loss sustained.
Chief Carter was determined to take no chances with the fire because of the high wind and the fire was attacked on all sides. While firemen were fighting the flames from Kaighn Avenue several companies of firemen had worked their way into the yard in the rear, from whence they played streams of hose.
An effort is being made today to determine the origin of the blaze.
Thomas Shannon, Engine Company 6, was a spectator when the wall crashed in. Hearing the cries of the buried men, he immediately dashed into the dirt. Six men, including Harry Seeley, formed a human chain and pulled four of the men from the heap of rubbish.
Someone had the presence of min to turn off the nozzle of a hose, which was playing directly on the mound. When found, the water was trickling through to the pinned men.
Camden Courier-Post March 21, 1928
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