HONESDALE—A historic structure in Honesdale Borough succumbed to a suspected arson Thursday night.

Members of the Honesdale Fire Department (HFD) responded to a blaze at the Coal Pockets just before 9:00 p.m. on July 11.

Arriving on scene, the responders were faced with heavy smoke and open flames at the building, located behind the Visitor's Center on Commercial Street.

As of press time Friday afternoon, Commercial Street remains closed while demolition crews clear out the debris.

According to an HFD press release, responders laid down over 2,000 feet of hose, connected to two fire hydrants to quench the blaze.

Firefighters had just gotten set up when the fire broke through the building's roof.

The fire was brought under control shortly before 11:00 p.m. with the scene cleared before 1:00 a.m.

“The main body of fire was quickly extinguished,” states the release. “Overhaul of the interior continued to locate hot spots and hidden fire.”

No injuries were reported during the knockdown.

Overall, “things went well,” stated HFD Deputy Chief, Brian Dulay in a later interview. “We got there quickly. If we had been there ten minutes later it would have been much bigger.”

Dulay explained the hydrants and building's relative isolation from other structures made addressing the fire easier with less risk of it spreading.

Friday morning, HFD met with the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) Fire Marshal to investigate the scene.

The fire is suspected to have resulted from arson. Anyone who may have information regarding the incident is asked to call the Honesdale Police Department at 570-253-1900.

The Coal Pockets

As their name implies, the Coal Pockets were a structure vital to the storage and transportation of coal in the heyday of the D&H Railroad and Canal.

According to documentation from the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), transmitted to the Library of Congress in 1985, that coal pocket was built between September and December of 1899 when the D&H Company changed Honesdale's canal bed into a rail yard.

This location had slightly shifted from its initial location directly behind the old D&H headquarters, what is now the Wayne County Historical Society.

Prior to the change in location, coal storage extended from 5th to 8th Streets, with the old coal pocket slides extending to 9th Street.

The multi-story coal pockets were used to receive coal deliveries from northern anthracite fields dropping their stores through openings between the tracks and into the structure's 24 storage bins.

Each of the bins were set with an internal slope that directed the coal to a loading slot at a lower elevation which dumped the mineral into cars on a separate track bound for delivery elsewhere.

Nearly 120 years after its construction, the Coal Pockets, once a key component in the transfer of anthracite in the northeast, were brought low by fire long after it had ceased storing the combustive resource which helped Honesdale thrive in America's early industrial era.

—Information from a press release was used in this story.