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Schott Glass Facility Fire Aftermath

DURYEA — Crews were called out Tuesday afternoon to a fire at a factory Luzerne County. The fire broke out around 5 p.m. at the Schott Glass facility on Y...
Schott Fire

DURYEA -- Crews were called out Tuesday afternoon to a fire at a factory Luzerne County.

The fire broke out around 5 p.m. at the Schott Glass facility on York Avenue in Duryea.

Thirty-four fire departments and more than 150 firefighters spent hours battling the fire.

The Schott Glass operations director hopes to get the facility back in operation, at least in some form, as soon as possible.   While there's no exact timetable yet, we know many of the people who work there are eager to get back on the job and find out what sparked the fire.

For the first time since the massive fire broke out, we are hearing from some of the employees who were there when Schott Glass in Duryea went up in flames.

"The smoke coming out of the roof, you swear there was a thousand tires on fire. It was so black. There was a gigantic stream going toward Old Forge."

Ed Slusser has worked in the company's logistics department for more than four decades helping to ship and pack items.

"I've been 41 years in July. My house is destroyed, I cried last night; it was unbelievable. What are you going to do? Start over," Slusser said.

"Surprising! I just got out of here yesterday at three o'clock, 2:30 and someone called me and someone said 'you OK?" said Mike Mozeleski.

Schott officials believe the fire Tuesday started in the warehouse section of the facility. That's where some of the manufacturing process is done to make high-tech glass for aerospace, businesses, and other companies.  Schott is still trying to determine how much damage was done to the rest of the plant off of York Avenue in Duryea.

"Today is all about checking out the integrity of the building and making sure we understand what happened. So, yes the hazmat team will be, the fire marshal will be in. We'll make sure the building is in the condition needed to assess the damage and start making repairs," said operations manager Michael Brown.

Brown went on to say if it weren't for the 150 plus firefighters from two counties who worked for 10 hours in sleet and freezing rain, the damage could've been worse, shutting down operations for even longer.

"We believe they put us in a position where we can move forward," said Brown.

"The amount of flammable material in some areas is unbelievable. I can't believe there wasn't a major explosion. The guys who were here did a really good job. The firemen were unbelievable," Slusser added.

Last fall, Schott Glass laid off 80 of its 225 employees effective this month, sending those jobs to the company's headquarters in Germany. The operations director says it's still too early to tell how the fire will affect that company decision.

No employees or firefighters were hurt.

Fire officials said the building is badly damaged and the roof collapsed.

"I’ve been fighting fires for approximately 15 years and this is probably the worst fire we’ve seen. Probably, hopefully in our life time," said Joe Korea, Assistant Chief of the Germania Hose Company.

According to Chief Joseph Bender, the biggest problem was the weather and making sure all responders stayed safe.

“Our biggest worry was about the chemicals and making sure the chemicals were intact. They were in the back side of the building so we kept hoses lines there to make sure that the fire never got to the actual chemical storage area," said Bender. "That was our biggest fear of getting the fire into there. We stopped it and it never got to that point so we were lucky."

“It was nothing like anything I’ve experienced, nothing like a house fire at all. Totally different," said Mark Brebish, firefighter.

The facility makes glass for aerospace, pharmaceutical, medical and other companies.

A fire marshal is expected to look into the cause of the fire on Wednesday.