Franklin, PA Splane Memorial Airport Fire, Sept 1945

Airport Hangar; 15 Planes Destroyed

Origin Of Fire Not Determined

Loss Estimated at from $75,000 to $80,000-$13,600 Insurance on Hangar, Owned By City, Won’t Cover Loss-Building and Planes Mass of Tangled Wreckage

The hangar and 15 planes at the Splane Memorial airport were completely destroyed by fire early today resulting in a loss estimated at between $75,000 and $80,000.

The blaze was first discovered about 4”15 a.m. its origin was not known.

Paul Rennard of Franklin, operator of the airport and its repair shop was the owner of 10 of the planes, he said, including several he had acquired only recently from the navy. He estimated the total loss would be about $40,000.

Mayor J.G. Payne said that the city, which owned the hangar, had it insured for $13,000 but he added that amount would not come close to covering the loss of the structure.

Rennard said other planes were owned by the following: One in partnership by Charles Minich, John Ausel and Joe Budzinski of Oil City, another by Walter Kahlin of Titusville; another by Carl [illegible], Robert Quinn and B.W. Simmons of Franklin; another by Homer Perritt of Oil City, and one by Charles Williams of Oil City.

The largest ship of them all, a twin Cessna, which Rennard said was worth about $15,000, was owned by the Jay Manufacturing Co. of Franklin.

Rennard said he had partial insurance coverage on his property.

All that remained today of the building and planes were tangled, twisted pieces of metal. The framework of the hangar when heated by the intense fire from gasoline and oil, twisted the steel roof supports and caused them to drop into the structure.

Those which were attached to the sidewalks in falling pulled one of the cement block sidewalls away while an interior wall which separated the office and an adjoining room collapsed when pulled down under the weight of the steel.

Tangled Mass

All that could be seen of the burned planes were a number of motors which could not be salvaged, and some burned parts. Proprietors of a number of the ships were almost completely [illegible] away from the rest of the motor. The only portions of the entire plant that escaped complete damage was the heating [illegible] and boiler room. The side of the small building which adjoined the rear of the hangar smouldered a little but did not catch fire completely. There were some papers in the boiler firebox which had even failed to ignite although the furnace door was open.

City officials visited the airport this morning but were at a loss to explain the manner in which the blaze originated. Some were of the opinion that possibly an explosion had occurred.

Major J.G. Payne, City [illegible] Samuel Moglowitz, City Councilman, R.R. Van Kirk and Fire Chief T.A. Owens [illegible] the ruins.