80-year-old man loses life's work in Old Shuford Mill fire - | WBTV Charlotte

80-year-old man loses life's work in Old Shuford Mill fire

Kristi O'Connor/WBTV Kristi O'Connor/WBTV
Kristi O'Connor/WBTV Kristi O'Connor/WBTV

About 24 hours after the Old Shuford Mill in Granite Falls went up in flames Friday, dozens of people in the community were viewing the wreckage from East Street.

Lee and Mark Jackson have lived on East Street for 17 years, and much like everyone in town, they know the Old Shuford Mill has been a piece of Granite Falls history.

“Now everytime I walk out my front door, I have to see this,” Lee Jackson said.

They are still trying to get a grip on the massive blaze that destroyed one of the six buildings on the 19-acre property. On Friday, Lee and Mark Jackson were concerned about their home and cars that were just feet away from the heavy smoke and debris that was falling from the air.

“It was really scary,” Lee Jackson said. “Just the sounds of metal bending and walls, brick walls caving in.”

Saturday, the flames were no longer visible, but thick black smoke still billowed in the air. Within 24 hours, East Street was clear of fire trucks but drew dozens of people who were all anxious to see what was left of the historic building.

“It’s just awful,” Gene Chase said.

Chase was a member of the Foothills Hobby Workshop, which was one of the five businesses that was housed in the building.

Chase, who is 80-years-old, spent the last 50 years building a model train and railroad track. His hobby has gotten quite a bit of attention in Granite Falls, as he was featured in the Caldwell Journal and was a frequent stop for annual field trips by local schools.

With hundreds of handmade railroad workers, trees, rocks and artwork to make the piece come a live, Chase was devastated to find out his decades of work and countless hours spent with his passion was long gone.

“I just sort of sat against the wall and cried for a few minutes, because I knew everything was gone,” Chase said.

Chase was just one of many people who stopped on East Street only to find their livelihood or all they owned to be destroyed.

One man lost nearly everything he owned in the fire, but what he missed most were the pictures of him and his father who was in the service. “Our pictures were almost exactly alike, when he was in the service and I was in the service, but his was black and white and mine was in color," the man said.

Many still hope that something can be salvaged, but likely won’t know for some time. Officials say the second floor fell into the basement and it will take several days for the interior to burn out.

Once the building stops smoking, investigators will begin to look into how the fire started.

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