Historic Architecture Scorched By Flames in Wilkes-Barre

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WILKES-BARRE – City police have joined a fire inspector in the investigation into a fire that damaged the Masonic Temple on North Franklin Street earlier this week.

Newswatch 16 was not allowed inside the 98-year-old building because of the investigation, but workers with a cleanup and restoration crew used a cell phone camera to record pictures of the charred ceilings, walls and furniture in the lobby.

The Masonic Temple is used as a meeting place for the fraternal organization, as well as seven other adult and youth groups in the Wyoming Valley.

Ralph Isely told Newswatch 16 that members are curious about how the fire started, when no one was supposed to be inside the building on Tuesday.

"It was a general seating area. And all of that is gone. There`s just nothing left,” said Isely. "I don`t understand it could happen. There are no electrical outlets or anything like that on the first floor area to begin with, that would have had a faulty electric cord or something like that. There`s nothing there.”

Masonic Temple Association President Charles Brandt said cleanup work is expected to take at least four months, and that some intricate plaster architecture may have been destroyed.

"There`s a lot of smoke damage throughout the building so, it`s going to take these people a while before they can leave.”

Isely said it’s unclear if insurance will cover the damage caused by the fire in Luzerne County.