Coal pocket building demolished after arson fire

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HONESDALE, WAYNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A Wayne County community is forced to say goodbye to a piece of history that’s been around for decades. it all started with a fire that officials say was no accident.

Piece by piece, the last standing coal pocket building in Honesdale came crumbling down. A demolition team was called in to tear down the building on Commercial Street after it went up in flames Thursday night.

“It’s terribly sad. I’ve done a lot of demolitions in this town over the last 30 years in the Honesdale area and it’s a shame to see something like this go,” Gerald Margraf of Leeward Construction said.

It’s a job that isn’t easy.

“The back slope of the building being an old coal slide, everything wanted to fall to the bottom so it has to be taken apart from the top and the bottom,” Margraf said.

“It’s a shame because the one was built in 1899 and the beam that was in the floor looks just like the day they put it in. The concrete was all mixed by hand,” Gary Swartz of Honesdale said.

Two fire hydrants were used with more than two thousand feet of hose laid to put the fire out. Officials initially deemed the fire to be suspicious.

“There was no power in it, nothing in it. It was empty for so many years and all of a sudden it just went up,” Swartz said.

Now a state police fire marshal determined the cause of the fire to be arson.

“I think that unfortunately kids have nothing to do these days and they have a bad habit of doing stupid things. Kind of started out with some graffiti that was sprayed around town,” Clark Williams of Honesdale said.

“They were always in there smoking or whatever and I don’t know, I just assume they were in here this time again,” Swartz said.

As the vacant building is being crushed to pieces, the community doesn’t have to completely let go of all of it. A remaining coal chute along with others will be brought over to the Wayne County Historical Society to possibly be put on display.

“It’s a small piece. Unfortunately, Honesdale doesn’t have much of its history left from the coal barring days. I thought for the Historic Society perhaps to at least salvage a few parts,” Williams said.

The coal bin is gone but never forgotten. The old coal pockets building is owned by the same family which had another property spray-painted with graffiti earlier in the week.

The demolition team plans on coming back Monday and Tuesday to clean up what they tore down.

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