The Georgia Fire Marshal told News Leader 9 a massive blaze that happened Sunday morning at Manchester Textile Mill was caused by an arsonist.
Fire departments from all over Meriwether and Harris counties responded to the fire that turned the old mill in Manchester into a blazing inferno. Flames rose as tall as the smokestacks on the historic building, collapsing walls and creating a dangerous situation for firefighters.
The building was in the process of being torn down for salvage, with only a few spaces near the façade occupied by local businesses. Investigators are trying to determine what started this fire, but they believe no demolition work occurred anytime recent enough to have sparked the blaze.
"We were able to save the art studio, the community room that we have a lot of functions in, and also the deli restaurant that we were able to save on the other side here, with no damage. You can tell by the still photos there was a lot of heavy, high fire," said Captain Ben Williams of the Manchester Fire Department. "It was all early 1900's, late 1800's construction. There were a lot of unstable walls collapsing and a lot of variables that made it very difficult to fight."
Firefighters were unable to access parts in the rear of the structure and they predict the rubble will continue to burn for several more days. Adjacent businesses received only smoke and water damage.
Viewers Johnny Craven, Adrian Baker, and Keith Redd took photos of the fire when it began.
The historic mill was 103 years old, erected in 1909. It once manufactured automotive fabrics and has been closed since 2002.
No one was inside the building at the time the fire started around 4:20 a.m.
Officials say they have no leads at the moment, but anyone with information is asked to call the arson hotline at 800-282-5804. A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction of a suspect or suspects.