Smethport, PA Bottle Factory Fire, May 1918

Ruins of the Glass Factory


Smethport, Pa. -- Early Monday morning the big plant of the BERNEY-BOND Glass Bottle Co. was totally destroyed by fire, the origin of which is unknown. MICHAEL O'BRIEN and ERNEST BROOKS the night watchmen, who were on duty at the plant say that five minutes before the flames were discovered everything was in perfect order about the tank. MR. O'BRIEN on his return from another part of the factory about 4:30 found a fire raging back of the tank. He immediately telephoned in a fire call and the fire department promptly responded but the big wooden buildings burned like tinder and it was impossible to check the flames after the headway they had gained.
The firemen were handicapped at the start by lack of water pressure but the steamer was soon brought into service and that defect remedied. The wind was in the south and consequently blew the great mass of flames over the big vacant lot north of the plant. Had the wind blown from the west it is more than probable that several dwelling houses on Forest avenue would have been destroyed. The plant consisted of two very large frame buildings and several smaller ones, the small building used as the business office being the only one to escape the flames.
The BERNEY-BOND plant was one of Smethport's leading industries and its loss is a severe blow to the town. From information at hand now prospects for rebuilding the factory in Smethport are not promising.
In former years the plant had given employment to a large number of men and boys at good wages, usually running nine or ten months out of the year. During the past winter the factory was equipped with bottle blowing machines and started operations April 1st for a term of 14 weeks, which was as long as factories of this class were to be allowed to run under government regulations. The plant was in operation night and day with the exception of Saturday night and Sunday.
The loss is estimated at about $150,000, with nearly insurance enough to cover that amount. This statement is not official but is the general report. This is one of the most disasterous fires from a business standpoint that ever visited the town and if it is not rebuilt local interests should bestir themselves with the idea of locating some sort of an industry to take its place. Another regretable feature of the disaster is that Smethport will lose a number of famillies who have made this town their home for years.

McKean County Miner Smethport Pennsylvania 1918-05-02