Lightning strike causes fire at vacant mill building in Clark Mills

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TOWN OF KIRKLAND — A lightning strike from Monday evening’s passing thunderstorm caused a fire at the old, vacant mill building on Main Street in the hamlet of Clark Mills.

Damage from the fire was contained to the roof, according to Clark Mills Fire Chief Gary Spaven.

“It’s believed to be a lightning strike,” Spaven said on Tuesday. A dozen volunteer fire departments were called to the old Hind and Harrison Plush Mill on Main Street. The four-story building has been vacant since the 1940s and is believed to have been built in the 1800s.

Spaven said several Clark Mills firefighters were in a nearby field setting up for their Field Days this weekend when they saw the lightning strike and the start of the flames. The alarm was raised at 7:47 p.m.

“There was heavy flame from the roof area” on arrival, Spaven stated. The old building had its original flat roof and then a second, newer roof on top of that. He said the fire was burning between the two roofs.

“It was too high up, it was too hard to get to,” the chief noted. Responding firefighters had to wait for National Grid to shut down power in the area because it was too dangerous to raise aerial trucks amid all of the utility lines in the area.

Spaven said they were eventually able to raise ladders to the top of the building and send volunteers inside to attack from below. Between the two attacks, he said it took about two hours to get the flames under control.

The chief said no one was injured and the fire was contained to the roof.

“It’s just the roof that’s a loss,” Spaven stated.

The Clark Mills, Clinton, Westmoreland, Whitesboro, Oriskany, Deansboro, Stanwix Heights, Vernon, Vernon Center, Clayville, Stittville and Yorkville fire departments assisted.

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