The first physical signs of the estimated $3.75 million fire company construction project in Lehighton have occurred.

This week, employees of the Popple Construction Company, Laflin, Luzerne County, reduced to rubble three houses that had to be demolished for the project. The houses were located between the Lehigh Fire Company No. 1 (Station 1) and Engine Company No. 2 (Station 2) buildings in the 100 block of South Third Street.

In other developments:

Ÿ The borough's zoning hearing board granted a variance to the fire company on the project. The variance involved the height of the building.

Ÿ Bids for the construction of the fire company were opened yesterday. Fourteen companies reportedly submitted construction bids. There were various options available.

Bids were also received for electrical and plumbing work.

Borough manager Nicole Beckett said the bids were turned over to the project construction manager for review. Recommendations by the construction manager will be forwarded to Lehighton Borough Council.

The project involves adding additional bays and other facilities between the two fire stations, creating one contiguous structure.

Presently there is apparatus housed in both stations, with the response gear primarily located in Station 1. This not only creates hazards for responding firefighters to run from one station to the other during a call, but potentially diminishes response times.

Training areas are also part of the new building.

The project is being partially funded by a $1.75 million state grant provided by the Pa. Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.

Also included in the project is the rehabilitation of the two older fire stations.

In addition to the state funding, the borough has allotted tax revenues toward the matching portion of the grant.