Reward increased for info in Tallassee mill arson case

Reward increased for info in Tallassee mill arson case
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

TALLASSEE, AL (WSFA) - One year ago Thursday flames lit up the night sky in Tallassee and destroyed a huge part of the town's identity.

"At one time years ago, almost everyone was dependent on that mill for their income," said Tallassee Mayor John Hammock.

"We are in need of the public's help and assistance," said State Fire Marshal Scott Pilgreen.

At city hall Thursday the state fire marshal, surrounded by investigators and the mayor, requested help from the public, specifically the whereabouts of a dark colored SUV. Surveillance cameras nearby captured the vehicle on the mill property after the fire started but before firefighters arrived.

One particular video showed the driver obeying the traffic light instead of speeding away. Pilgreen was careful to say this individual isn't necessarily a suspect but someone they want to talk to.

"A year ago today someone probably saw something, heard something, and maybe told something in the months since," Pilgreen said.

The second part of the news conference had to do with the reward money. It was $7,500. Now it's $11,000.

"$11,000 sometimes makes a person think," said Central Alabama Crimestoppers Director Executive Director Tony Garrett.

Investigators say the origin of the fire remains 'undetermined.' Even though it's been a year, investigators say they will never give up in finding the truth about what happened that night.

"We're always optimistic. You never know," Pilgreen said.

More than 100 firefighters responded that night from 15 different fire departments. The blaze is long gone, but not the burning mystery.

Meanwhile, Tallassee Mayor John Hammock says the city has talked with the property owners to have everything cleaned up within 18 months.

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