Cause of Hillsborough mill fire ruled 'suspicious'

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Thursday, May 26, 2016
Much debris remains at the site of the old mill fire.
Much debris remains at the site of the old mill fire.

HILLSBOROUGH (WTVD) -- The cause of a fire that destroyed a section of a historic mill in west Hillsborough on Friday has been deemed suspicious but undetermined.

The investigation into the cause is continuing, the City of Hillsborough said, but the property at 202 S. Nash St. has been released to its owner.

"We know about where the fire started and what was there and what wasn't," Hillsborough Fire Marshal Jerry Wagner said.

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Firefighters battle a massive fire in Hillsborough.
Courtesy of Scott Paisley

Anyone with additional information, including video of the fire that may show something of significance, is asked to contact the Fire Marshal's Office at (919) 241-4801 or Hillsborough Police Department at (919) 732-9381, ext. 30 for Investigations Commander Lt. Scott Nicolaysen.

Wagner said the owner of the former Bellevue Manufacturing Company textile mill is concerned about theft from the property as people may try to take memorabilia from the site.

"They realize people are curious, but curiosity doesn't give anybody permission to trespass or take anything," Wagner said. "This is private property, and any theft or trespassing will be prosecuted."


The building site remains unsafe as a large amount of debris is still present from collapsed roof and walls. The 30,000-square-foot room that was destroyed was one of four buildings at the mill. Eight fire departments responded to the fire, which was reported shortly before 5 p.m. and contained by about 7:20 p.m. No other buildings were affected, and there were no injuries.

The Bellevue mill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated by the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners as a local historic landmark. Its destroyed weave room was built as an addition in 1920.

The complex is scheduled to be transformed into apartments.

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