Easton Express, Tuesday, November 3, 1925
Drunken Men Fire House; Two Burn to Death
Third Man, Father of One Victim, Taken Alive From Ruins of Washington,
Two men received burns that resulted in their death and a third suffered
burns about the head that are expected to prove serious following what
police authorities claim was a drunken orgy in the home of two of the
victims in Washington, N.J., last night.
The dead are Andrew Gunderman, 35, and Marshal Price, 45, George Gunderman,
60, father of Andrew, was painfully burned about the face and head.
The victims met their death when the Gunderman home of Myrtle avenue
was burned to the ground about 12 o'clock last night. The two story
frame structure was reduced to ashes. The bodies of Gunderman and Price
were not removed until the fire had practically burned itself out.
Gunderman was a mass of charred flesh and bones when he was taken
from the smoldering ruins. Price was not burned so terrible although
the flames had scorched his arms and legs.
George Gunderman was removed...James Ryan of Washington, the first
man to appear at the scene smashed the rear door of the house and dragged
the unconscious boy of the aged man from the kitchen. Attempts made
by Ryan to re-enter the blazing building and rescue the other men were
frustrated when the ceiling collapse and a blazing mass of timbers
fell to the floor.
While the Halloween festivities in the center of Washington were at
their height the fire started. The cause is not know and will probably
remain a mystery. Two of the men in the house at the time are dead
and their apparently can offer no explanation.
James Ryan and Adam Willever, both of Washington, were coming from
Port Colden at about 11:30 last night when they saw the sky lighted
up on the outskirts of the town. It appeared to be a disastrous fire
and the young men went directly to the scene. Not a person was to be
seen near the blazing structure when they arrived. They hastily aroused
the neighbors on either side of the of the Gunderman Home. Both of
these families were in bed and were ignorant of the fire raging next
door which was threatening their own homes. Willever rushed away to
turn in an alarm.
Going to the rear of the blazing building, Ryan found the rear door
locked. He heard groans coming from the rear room and it appeared to
him as if someone was lying on the floor of the kitchen. Ryan smashed
in the door and a suffocating cloud of smoke rushed out. Guided by
the continued groans, he groped about the floor near the door until
his hand located the leg of a man. Then he pulled out George Gunderman.
The top of the old man's head was burned and his was singed. He was
taken to the home of Mr. and Mrs. George Scott a few doors away. Dr.
C.B. Smith and A.C. Zuck, Washington physicians arrived a few minutes
later and treated the man.
After Ryan had succeeded in saving the life of the elder Gunderman
he hastened to the front of the house. He could hear groans inside
and knew that at least one man was still in the doomed building. The
front door was also locked. Ryan smashed in this door but the flames
has so weakened the framework of the house that moment later the ceiling
crashed in. It then became impossible to get inside the two men had
to be left to their fate. Ryan received a severely burned hand while
he was attempting to enter the building.
The Washington fire Department ... their arrival. They were also handicapped
by a meagre water supply and it was necessary to resort to the use
of chemicals. The buildings on on either side of the Gunderman home
were scorched but not seriously damaged.
A frame garage standing in the rear of the house caught fire and burned
to the ground. An automobile in the garage was also destroyed.
Only the favorable direction of the wind saved the remaining houses
in the row where the Gunderman home Stood. The wind swept the sparks
in the direction of the abandoned Morris Canal. If the wind had been
in the other direction it is probable that the entire row of frame
buildings would have gone up in smoke.
Coroner William Fisher was at the scene of the fire when the bodies
were taken out about 1 o'clock this morning. He authorized their removal
to the DeVoe undertaking establishment in Washington.
According to the Washington police the three men had been drinking
heavily since early afternoon. Mrs. Gunderman left the house in the
afternoon and with her several children had gone to the home of Mr.
and Mrs. Scott a few doors away. They did not go home in the evening.
Both Prince and Andrew Gunderman were employees of the Edison Cement
Company. Price had lived at various times at the Gunderman home as
The house was the property of George Gunderman, who made his home
there with his son and family.