Incident Detail: 1923 Call No. 02

Call No.  2
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 American Briquette Plant 

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May 7, 1923

One of the worst fires in the Lykens-Wiconisco area occurred on Monday, May 7, 1923 at 3:30AM. Fire destroyed the Lykens plant of the American Briquette Company, one-half mile north of Lykens. The blaze was first discovered in the fan ducts and spread rapidly. Firemen from Wiconisco aided the Lykens firemen in fighting the blaze, but the flames were not brought under control before 10 o'clock. At the time the fire broke out, the pumps at the Lykens collieries were out of service and no water pressure could be obtained. The firemen were virtually forced to sit and watch the fire burning for one hour, until it was too late to save any portion of the plant, before sufficient water pressure could be furnished. Four men, two firemen and two employees, were slightly burned while fighting the fire, but were able to continue after receiving first aid treatment. The total loss was valued at $400,000. Among the losses were: $40,000 worth of supplies on hand, twenty-eight or thirty large motors, ten fifty-horsepower motors, eighteen five-horsepower motors, a large dryer, and two large presses.

Before the fire, the plant was working full-capacity, with three shifts. The average output of the plant was 8,000 tons of briquettes per month. The briquettes were a coal substitute. Plant Superintendent, Malcolm Orr of Lykens, stated that fifty-five employees would be thrown out of work because of the plant destruction. Company officials from Philadelphia responded that afternoon to discuss plans to rebuild the plant. A previous fire at the plant in December, 1919, caused a loss of $30,000. The plant was rebuilt after that fire.

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