DUNMORE — Clean-up is still underway at the site of an old school that burned in Lackawanna County.
The building that used to be Dunmore High School around the turn of the century was reduced to rubble by an overnight fire.
Crews started tearing down the building while parts of it were still smoking Monday morning.
More than a century’s worth of Dunmore history went up in flames within a few hours Sunday night, destroying a doctor’s office, day care center, and a few other offices.
Many people remembered what the building once was.
Dozens of people stood curbside on South Apple Street in Dunmore, some in tears or shock, as the old Dunmore High School glowed orange. Many of those watching had a memory of the place, whether they learned or worked here.
“As a teacher, I teach at Dunmore High School, and this used to be Dunmore High School, so I just wanted to see it go,” said Brian McGurl. “It’s a shame to see it go. It’s a great building, 1908,”
That’s the date on the facade of the building still smoldering in the daylight, but the school’s actually older than that. We found a picture in the library of the current Dunmore High School, the old high school with a different facade from sometime in the late 1800s.
It hasn’t been a school for about 30 years. The building now houses a doctor’s office, dance and karate studios, and the Here We Grow With Love day care center. Its employees huddled after sending children to other day cares for the day and watched their home come down.
“I liked the people that I work with. I love the kids that were here, and it’s like 2.4 seconds and it’s all gone. But I know we’ll have another one,” said Regina Price.
The devastating fire was also emotional for people who haven’t been inside the building’s walls for many years. Barney Comparetta and his neighbors thought back to the ninth grade. They watched the gymnasium, where they played pick-up basketball back then, as it was torn down and scooped away.
“It was great, and the neighborhood was great, too. It’s sad to see it go. I’m going to miss it,” said Comparetta.
Eugene Giordano saw the smoke from a few blocks away and figured his doctor’s appointment here wouldn’t happen today.
“All around Dunmore, each street I came down it was blocked by cops. I didn’t know what was going on until I saw the smoke.”
There was so much damage that firefighters called for demolition immediately. Crews tore down and scooped away the entire contents of that doctor’s office where Dr. Vithal Dhaduk has had his practice for a decade.
“What happens now? I don’t know where to start and where to end. But, immediately, were going to look for another place to transfer my phone lines and start the computers to tell my patients where I am and when we can start seeing the patients.”
Firefighters started working in the area of Dr. Dhaduk’s office but within minutes, flames spread to the roof and burned until it collapsed, more than a century of Dunmore’s history was gone within hours.
Dunmore firefighters said there was so much damage to the building that they needed to immediately start demolishing it. Because of the extent of the damage they may not be able to determine the cause.