Local News

Investigation ongoing as fire continues to smolder at Hillsborough textile mill

Posted May 23, 2016 3:47 p.m. EDT
Updated May 24, 2016 11:09 a.m. EDT

— A fire at a historic Hillsborough textile mill continued to smolder Monday, three days after the building went up in flames.

The Bellevue Mill, which dates back to 1909, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was slated to eventually become 100 apartments and condos, but on Friday afternoon, crews worked to contain a large fire at the 120,000-square-foot building.

Residents said the large plume of smoke could be seen from 5 miles away.

"I looked out back and I could see smoke billowing everywhere. We could feel it form the porch," said Kelly Thompson, who lives nearby.

Fire investigators told WRAL News that the wet weather and quick thinking by neighbors helped contain the fire.

"Everybody around here was so scared, keeping our houses watered down because we were so scared they were not going to get it under control," said neighbor Shelby Bowers.

Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens said the building had been unoccupied for 10 years, but thanks to a quick response from firefighters and firewalls, the blaze did not spread to connected retail space.

"This is such an old building and they are all connected, so if the wind had shifted, it was a matter of the wind blowing in the right direction for us," said Lisa Wells, owner of Paws at the Corner, a nearby pet shop.

Officials said eight departments responded to the fire, which was contained by 7:20 p.m.

Susan Green, the head of Bellevue Development, said the company was "days away" from closing on the new apartment project. She said in light of the fire, she does not know what the future holds for the property.

The State Bureau of Investigation, Hillsborough fire marshal and police detectives will investigate the cause of the fire with assistance from Orange Rural Fire Department and the Orange County Fire Marshal Division.