Burlington, NJ Fox Theatre Fire, Dec 1944

Patrons Flee Theatre Fire

Seven Injured Persons File Safely From Burlington Blaze

(Special to the Times.)
Burlington---Fire swept the Fox Theatre here last night as 700 movie patrons filed orderly from the building and escaped unharmed.

The blaze, starting in the basement, spread swiftly to the main portion of the theatre. That was about 6:40 o’clock. The first warning that the patrons received came from Newton Marion, manager of the theatre, who stepped to the stage and told them:

“There is a fire in the rear of the theatre, but do not be alarmed. Everyone must leave, but please do it orderly and without pushing. There is plenty of time. There is no danger.”

The patrons began filing to the exits, obeying instructions. Shortly after they had left the building, a check was made by authorities, and it was learned that all had escaped and no one had been injured.

The fire gained such intensity that it was necessary to summon aid from nearby communities. Fire-fighting equipment was sent to the scene from Mount Holly, Florence and Bristol.

At 9 p.m. the roof of the big theatre collapsed and fell into the building amid a spiraling shower of sparks and flame. Two shops, the Capitol Furniture Store and the Ace Cleaners, fell prey to the blaze and were completely wrecked. By midnight there was nothing standing but the walls of the building. Firemen under direction of Chief Joseph Gilbert finally got the blaze under control by 12:30 a.m., but worked all through the night to prevent another outbreak.

The theatre, formerly known as the Auditorium, occupied a prominent part in the city’s history.

President Wilson and President Taft spoke there, as did many prominent statesmen in the course of the past half-century.

Trenton Evening Times, Trenton, NJ 11 Dec 1944