SCRANTON – Firefighters believe a worker’s cutting torch sparked a fire at the old Scranton Lace factory Wednesday.
That fire is now sparking questions about the work inside the century-old factory.
The Scranton Lace Company closed down the factory years ago but neighbors say recently they’ve started seeing activity here again with work crews taking scrap metal out of the building.
Scranton firefighters haven’t come up with an official cause for Wednesday’s fire but they believe a worker’s cutting torch set a pile of debris on fire.
The exact cause is not the only unknown that has firefighters and neighbors concerned. They want to know what all the work is for.
Frank Joyce has lived within a block of the Scranton Lace Company’s factory his entire life. He has worked at his floral shop since the 70s, around the time the factory started scaling back production.
“The clock tower in the back used to light up and it used to have big vases that looked like big urns with flames coming out of it because of the steam whistle,” recalled Joyce.
Scranton firefighters were at the factory fighting flames on Wednesday. Firefighters say a pile of wooden debris caught fire while workers were cutting scrap metal on the first floor.
Firefighters aren’t 100 percent sure that’s what sparked the fire.
Workers are back inside the factory on the first floor. You can’t see the work they’re doing but you can hear it. And those sounds have raised questions among neighbors for weeks.
“Speculation in the neighborhood? Sure, we figure it’s just a whole lot of money going down a big, very deep, black hole. Because nothing is being done,” Joyce said.
Neighbors say the old factory has switched hands several times over the years. Newswatch 16 tried to contact a man who is a part-owner of the building, Jody Cordaro, but we didn’t get a call back.
Workers inside the building said they couldn’t tell us what all their work was for.
Frank Peffer has run his gym down the street from the Scranton Lace Factory for 40 years. He’s skeptical that the work at the factory will ever lead to development.
“I’d like to see them do something with it. There were several people interested in it and most of the plans fell through,” Peffer said.
Scranton city officials say they were surprised to hear about work going on at the old Scranton Lace factory.
Though the kind of work that’s being done doesn’t require a permit with the city, Scranton’s fire chief feels that firefighters should have been told about it. Fire Chief Pat Desarno says he’s called a meeting with the mayor and other city officials to discuss whether they should have known about the work.