Approximately 50 firefighters from five local companies quickly brought a fire under control inside a vacant storage building at the sprawling former Mohawk Mills complex Thursday morning.
The Fulton County Fire Coordinator’s Office is investigating the cause of the blaze inside the 16,250-square-foot structure at 5 Mill St. That and nine other structures on the property have no electrical power and have not been used since their purchase by Texas Torah Institute of Bayside, N.Y., in 2008.
Broadalbin-Kennyetto Fire Company Chief Scott Hall would not classify the investigation other than to say the building has been “vacant for some time.”
The initial call came in sometime before 5 a.m. and prompted Hall to activate a mutual aid plan to combat any fire at the complex. “It’s a good-sized old mill,” he said, explaining that it could create a huge fire. He said this was first fire to occur inside the complex since it closed years ago.
Broadalbin Mayor Eugene Christopher said the village is concerned about the complex catching fire. “Any vacant building is a concern, especially this one because of its size,” he said.
The complex covers 12 acres and contains mostly brick buildings ranging in size from 2,016 square feet to 77,640 square feet and totaling 146,098 square feet. All have sprinklers, but those are inoperative because none of the buildings has electrical service.
Hall said firefighters found the fire on the third and fourth floors in the middle of the four-story building, where it was consuming wood floorboards. Fire debris was also raining down on the second floor. Firefighters put out the fire in about 10 minutes but had to spend several hours checking for embers. No one was injured.
Providing mutual aid were fire companies from Perth, Galway, Hagaman and Mayfield; two others remained on standby.
“It was a great knockdown job by everyone,” Hall said.
Hall said the fire had little chance to spread because the building did not contain any flammable materials.
Linda Eastman, who said she phoned in the fire call, said firefighters did a “fantastic job. Their response time was so quick.”
She said she and her mother, Barbara, keep a close eye on the mill, which is near their home. “We check the mill out morning and night because of a fear of it catching fire,” she said.
Barbara Eastman was the first to notice the fire, her daughter said. “We had smelled smoke throughout the evening last evening, but we did not think anything of it. It could have been someone in the village with a fire going,” she said.
Later on, however, her mother “saw a glow in the windows [of the mill] and debris falling, she said.