Firefighters Trapped and Killed in Rescue Attempt Gloucester City, New Jersey Building Collapse 2002

Three Firefighters and Three Sisters Killed in Gloucester City, New Jersey Building Collapse during Fire Attack, Rescue Operation, July 4th, 2002

Gloucester City (NJ) Collapse 2002

On July 4th, 2002 at 0136 hrs.,The Gloucester City Fire Department was dispatched to 200 North Broadway for a reported house fire. Responding units were advised that occupants may be trapped. First arriving units were on location in less than three minutes.

They found heavy fire on all exposures of a three-story multi-family dwelling and initiated a search for entrapped occupants. (Various reports from bystanders were at times conflicting regarding the number and location of victims). While providing an aggressive interior attack and rescue operation, an occupant was rescued from the dwelling. Due to the severity of their injuries they were unable to give direction regarding the whereabouts of any other occupants.

While all hands were operating by continuing an aggressive interior attack and rescue, a partial collapse of the structure occurred. An emergency evacuation signal was sounded and while that was commencing a further and much more substantial collapse occurred trapping eight firefighters inside the burning debris.

Additional specialized collapse rescue resources were requested, firefighter accountability was initiated and rescue efforts were intensified. Five of the eight trapped firefighters were rescued. Three of the eight gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to their fellow man. Unfortunately these three children did not survive. A total of nine victims were transported to area hospitals, one civilian and eight firefighters.


  • James Sylvester
    Fire Chief, Mount Ephraim Fire Department
    Sylvester, 31, a 17 year veteran, was survived by his wife, who was pregnant with the couple’s first child
  • John West
    Deputy Chief, Mount Ephraim Fire Department
    West, 40, a 23-year veteran, was survived by his wife and three children
  • Thomas G. Stewart III
    Paid Firefighter, Gloucester City Fire Department
    Stewart, 30, a 13 year veteran, was survived by his fiancée and their son. Stewart publicly proposed to his girlfriend, hours before the fire while they watched the city’s fireworks from high atop a fire truck ladder at Gloucester City High School.

NIOSH REPORT: Structural Collapse at Residential Fire Claims Lives of Two Volunteer Fire Chiefs and One Career Fire Fighter – New Jersey, HERE

Philadelphia Inquirer Posting, HERE

Everyone Goes Home Newsletter Article by Chris Collier, HERE

New Jersey Division of Fire Safety LODD Report, HERE

Full Post on an  HERE and HERE

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