In what was described as the worst fire in Williamsport's History, the entire Linck Block was destroyed on February 16th, 1927. One fireman would lose his life battling the blaze, and a mother and infant child would die weeks later, as a result from exposure and shock on the night of the fire.
It all began on Tuesday, February 15th, although no one realized it at the time. The Linck building had a garbage chute, with an opening on each floor for residents to drop their refuse down to the basement where it would be put in the incinerator. On Tuesday afternoon, a small fire was discovered in the chute. Firemen arrived and quickly, and rather easily, put out the fire.
At 5pm that evening, work on the buildings new fire escapes was completed.
At almost 2am on Wednesday morning, the building was discovered to be on fire. Flames spread quickly, and this time, by the time the firemen arrived, there was no hope of saving the building. The only hope was to get all of the residents evacuated.
The Williamsport fire department was assisted by fire companies from Lock Haven, Jersey Shore, Muncy, Montoursville, and two South Williamsport companies.
All traffic on the Pennsylvania Railroad was temporarily suspended during the fire, and officials of the railroad ordered all trackmen to assist firemen in laying hose under the rails. Once this was accomplished, rail traffic resumed.
"Many thrilling rescues were made by firemen as the partly clothed residents of the apartments were carried down on ladders from the fourth story of the building."
Mrs W.J. Danley was rendered unconscious by smoke. Her husband got the attention of the firemen, and once a ladder was thrown against the structure, Danley threw his wife over his shoulder and carried her down from the top floor. He was badly burned during he descent.
|Charles Thomas Mahoney 1881-1927. The first fireman killed in the line of duty at Williamsport.
By 9:30am, nothing but a few sections of walls was left standing.
A few weeks later, papers reported that a Mrs Jack Donley and her 3 month old child both died on the same day, both having suffered from shock and exposure on the night of the fire. Although I can't be certain, it unfortunately seems likely that Mrs Jack Donley was the "Mrs W.J. Danley" who had been carried from the building, unconscious, by her husband.
Fire escapes had been completed at 5pm on Tuesday, just ten hours before the fire began. It's believed that had the work on the fire escapes been delayed by one day, "the loss of life would have been appalling".
The Linck Block Before The Fire
The Linck block had a frontage of 200 feet on West fourth street, and extended to West Edwin street a distance of 208 feet. It contained the Hippendrome Theater, several stores including the Williamsport Hardware and Stove Company & Linck Furniture Store, and a number of apartments on the upper stories.
The Lewisburg Journal reported that there were 150 apartments in the upper stories of the building, which covered an entire city block.
The old home of Theordore Hill, deceased, which stood next door on West Fourth street, was badly damaged when a wall fell from the Linck block.
The east end of the Weightman Block was considerably damaged by fire, which was poured onto the walls to keep it from catching fire as well.
In 1927, the Linck block was owned by Frank E. Plankenhorn & H. Merrill Winner, the men having purchased it from the Linck estate in May of 1926. Nearly $100,000 had been spent on renovations since the purchase. Modern show rooms and new store fronts had been added to the stores.