Historic Salisbury mill destroyed by fire, cause under investigation

In a city known for its historic buildings, one of the most iconic is now gone.  The 1896 Grimes Mill was destroyed by fire late Wednesday night.

The fire was reported at around 9:44.  When firefighters arrived the historic building was already engulfed in flames.  Witnesses said the flames were leaping 8- to 100 feet in the air and could be for seen for miles.

The building is located on Church Street, near downtown Salisbury.  In its day the Grimes Mill was an important roller mill that produced flour, meal, and feed. It was operated by the Grimes family  from 1906-1963, and purchased in 1983 by Historic Salisbury Foundation.

Wednesday night fire companies from Salisbury, as well as volunteer departments from across the county and the Rowan Rescue Squad responded to the fire.

Elaney Hasselmann with the City of Salisbury said that the building and equipment inside appeared to be a total loss.

The building was filled with historic mechanical equipment used in the 19th and 20th centuries.

In recent years the mill had been turned into a museum that attracted visitors from across the state.  Just last month the mill served as the backdrop for Fezziwigg's Counting House in a production of a Scrooge Trolley Tour.

Wednesday night Ed Clement, Ed Norvell, and members of the Historic Salisbury Foundation watched the building go up in an orange glow of smoke and flames.  "It's a horrible thing to see," Norvell told WBTV.  "It's heartbreaking."

Several streets over neighbors gathered on sidewalks and porches to watch the mill burn.  One young man told WBTV that he was scared when he first saw the fire, and described it as a "massive blaze."

Firefighters will stay at the scene through Thursday, and will be joined by investigators from the State Bureau of Investigation who will work to determine the cause of the fire.

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