A basement fire filled the historic Odd Fellows Hall in downtown Hawley with smoke, Sunday morning, December 2.
HAWLEY – A basement fire filled the historic Odd Fellows Hall in downtown Hawley with smoke, Sunday morning, December 2. Tenants from the five apartments on the second floor were routed out of their homes and four business tenants were affected.
Smoke could be seen pouring from the red brick structure at 206 Main Avenue, at the corner with River Street, a landmark dating to 1898. The owner, John Johnson, was alerted by the alarm company. He said the smoke alarms had gone off and a tenant called 9-1-1.
Everyone was able to escape without harm.
Hawley Fire Department was called out at 6:55 a.m.
Hawley’s Deputy Fire Chief Eugene E. Krause said that the fire was linked to a fan in the basement below Cutting Line hair salon. Fire damage was limited to the basement and salon. There was a lot of damage to the electrical utility and plumbing in the basement. Water damage was minor, and limited to the salon and basement. Smoke damaged the interior of the entire building.
Krause stated that there was charring of floor joists, but no major structural damage except where a hole was cut in the floor of the Cutting Line.
Firefighters had to break in the doors to the Cutting Line hair salon.
Krause said that one woman went back in the hair salon to look for building keys, and needed to be treated for smoke inhalation.
No emergency responders were injured.
There were also at least three cats in the building. Hawley Fire Department volunteers were able to revive one cat that had smoke inhalation. Angel Hanrahan, a fire police member, was administering the oxygen to the cat while firefighter Zach Mead helped to comfort the animal. Hanrahan, who has experience with this from working at Wallenpaupack Veterinary Clinic, said that the air mask is designed specifically for cats and dogs, and was donated to the Hawley Fire Department. She said this is the first time they had a chance to put it to use. One other cat they had rescued did not require oxygen. She said that it was sad, but they were unable to locate the third cat (at that point). She stated that the two cats they rescued appeared to be doing fine and were placed in cages, awaiting their owners.
Windows were opened up to let out the smoke; a ventilating fan was used to clear the basement. He stated that although they were spared fire damage above the basement level, smoke can be as damaging.
Johnson said that his tenants probably would not be able to get back in the building. American Red Cross arrived to offer them help. Heat and electric were shut down.
Businesses on the street left, from left, include Back to the 50’s Juke Box, 210 Main Ave.,; Cutting Line hair salon, 208 Main Ave. A; Artisan Picture Framing & Arts Gallery 204 Main Ave. and Main Avenue Books & Bindery, 202 Main Ave.
The Deputy Chief said that one of the owners of the book store was salvaging books that they were repairing for customers.
Johnson said that his insurance company had been contacted.
There are five apartments upstairs. There was a sign advertising one of them for rent.
Krause’s said the borough building inspector would have to look at the structure. The ladder was placed up to the roof level because of the smoke they had seen, but Krause said they did not need to cut any holes in the roof.
Hawley Fire Department was on scene, assisted by Forest Volunteer with their ladder truck; White Mills, Lakeville and Honesdale fire departments, as well as Commonwealth Ambulance. Fire Police were rerouting traffic.
Hawley Fire Chief Scott Mead was in charge. Around 40 personnel were on scene from all departments. Hawley’s fire apparatus were back at station around noon.
The Odd Fellows Hall was built in 1898 the year after an inferno took out most of the 200 block. At that time Hawley only had a fire bucket brigade. The Hawley Fire Department was not organized until 1898 and their first station was in the Odd Fellows Hall, in the back.
Borough Hall offices were put in front, on the left. Numerous stores have occupied the front over the decades, including an A&P grocery and Unger’s Five and Ten. Sundry organizations have used the meeting rooms upstairs, from fraternal societies to the Boy Scouts to churches. In recent years the upstairs has been used for apartments.