Dynamite to bring down decades-old smokestack in Reading

'This is a very involved process'

READING, Pa. - A structure that's stood on North Ninth Street in Reading for decades is set to come down with a bang.

"This is a very involved process, obviously, and the safety of the community, the residents, and the blasting crew, that's our paramount responsibility," said Jeremy Searfoss, the city's fire marshal.

A 135-foot tall smokestack, part of a building at the old Reading Outlet Center, will be fitted with 70 pounds of dynamite by Kesco Inc. of western Pennsylvania and demolished at 11 a.m. Thursday.

"Today, they are doing prep work," Searfoss said. "I was out there this morning. They are drilling several holes. It's probably going to total 40 to 60 holes," Searfoss explained.

Road closures will begin at 10:30 a.m. and continue until noon in the 700 and 800 blocks of North Ninth, the 900 block of Windsor and Douglas, and the 700 and 800 blocks of Moss.

Three seismographs will be positioned in the area to check for damage underground.

"That's to measure any ground movement," said Searfoss. "The blaster is fairly confident, as are we based on the blasting materials, they are not on the ground."

Would you like to watch?

"We don't want people coming down to that area. You're not going to be able to get close," he said.

But the fire marshal recommends other safe viewing areas.

"Probably either the Pagoda, or if you go to Reading Outer Station [at North Sixth and Spring streets], something to that effect," Searfoss said.

The fire marshal also said the demolition was not spurred by the partial collapse of the building a few weeks ago.

"We had these discussions probably right after the new year," he said. "Within a week after that, I met with the blasting contractor."

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