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Community reacts after fire destroys landmark building

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A community remembers a more than century-old building destroyed by an early morning fire in Shamokin.

On Thursday afternoon, many packed Independence Street to watch as crews began to take down what is left of the 119-year-old landmark building.

Around 4 p.m., firefighters were still battling smoke and some flames, more than thirteen hours after it began.

The temperatures were so cold, the water from the trucks left a tree frozen.

But the cold conditions didn't stop residents from coming out to watch or record.

"Nothing really happens here usually, so it was weird,” Paige Vargo, of Shamokin, said.

Vargo moved here from Washington State about a year ago.

So, she's unfamiliar with the building's long history and its importance to those who've been here since they were young.

Like Judith Shuey.

"It's part of all of us. It's just not a one-time thing. We had the fun shop, we came here and got our cards. I went to meetings with my husband, they had dinners in the building. We're gonna miss it,” Shuey said.

The multi-use building was home to the Masonic Lodge.

Judith's husband William was a mason here for more than 30 years.

For him, the loss is painful.

"We're just all devastated. It's over a hundred years of history here, and it's gone,” William said.

In addition to the lodge, the building was also home to a bakery.

"They were gonna move out in about a week or two. They were looking for a new location and they were moving out anyway. And they pretty much lost everything,” Shamokin Mayor William Milbrand said,

Crews are in the process of taking the building down.

But to Shuey, it doesn't matter what gets built in its place.

"The architecture that was in that building can never be replaced, never can be duplicated. It was considered one of the most beautiful lodges in Pennsylvania,” he said.

The mayor tells me crews plan to continue demolition Friday.

They may never be able to figure out how the fire started.

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