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'Suspicious' fire destroys historic Tallassee mill

Published: May. 5, 2016 at 9:33 AM CDT|Updated: May. 13, 2016 at 9:58 AM CDT
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(Source: WSFA 12 News viewer Ashley Nicole)
(Source: WSFA 12 News viewer Ashley Nicole)
Residents look at the destroyed mill from the safety of the Fitzpatrick Bridge (Source: WSFA 12...
Residents look at the destroyed mill from the safety of the Fitzpatrick Bridge (Source: WSFA 12 News)

TALLASSEE, AL (WSFA) - Law enforcement officials are calling the massive blaze that destroyed the historic mill in Tallassee late Wednesday night a "suspicious fire".

Tallassee Police Chief Jimmy Rodgers says the fire began around 11 p.m. The structure was vacant with no running electricity, and there were no reports of lightning in the area. The area also had reports of vandalism over the past year.

No injuries were reported, but around 10 families were evacuated from the area due to the heat and embers. They have since been allowed to return home.

The fire is under control, but about 60 firefighters are still on the scene making sure the fire stays out. An Alabama Law Enforcement Agency helicopter is also on the scene, adding aerial fire coverage. It will take several days to completely put out the fire before investigators can determine its cause.

The scene Thursday morning was very emotional as residents of the area gathered at the Benjamin Fitzpatrick Bridge where they watched the historic building burn.

"Just about every family here has ties to this mill, so you can understand the emotional draw from seeing this going up in flames," Chief Rodgers explained.

The mill, better known as Mount Vernon Textile Mill, is located near the bridge on Lower Tuskegee Road. It was originally opened in the 1840s and was in the process of being torn down for recyclable materials. The site has been vacant since 2005.

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