This Day In History: 1941-02-20
One of Suffern’s worst fires destroyed Dixon Motors on Wayne Avenue causing damage estimated at $65,000 and resulting in severe injuries to several firefighters. The fire, which seemed to have started in the boiler room of the building was discovered by Erie yard foreman Sam Nardo at about 2:30 AM. He notified Suffern police. When Fire Chief Atena arrived on the scene he issued a mutual aid call. Fire companies from Mahwah, Hillburn, Sloastburg, and Tallman responded. The difficulties of fighting the blaze were heightened by the extreme cold and the strong winds. The building was completely destroyed along with 17 new Dodge cars and trucks and 6 used cars in the adjacent lot. The roof of the Eureka Hotel caught fire three times and sparks were found on the roof of the Sacred Heart Church an eight of a mile away. Houses were wet down within a block of the fire. Many firemen suffered from frostbite and several were completely slated with ice before the blaze was brought under control. Most seriously injured was Patrolman James Lydon, a member of the Suffern Fire Department was critically injured. He entered the burning building and fell through the floor. His cries were heard by Max Grossman who went in to rescue him. Suffern Fire Department Lt. Ted Friedman and Police Sgt. Edison Thompson followed him into the building and found him carrying Lydon out on his back. Lydon was taken to the Good Samaritan Hospital where he was reported to be in critical condition with third-degree burns and a probable broken neck. Ex-Fire Chief Belmont also suffered severe burns around the eye and was treated at the scene by Dr. Frank Errico. James Dixon of Ramsey, a partner in the firm, said that the building was insured.