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New information emerges in weekend Parchment fire
PARCHMENT, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - New information in Saturday morning's fire that destroyed part of the vacant Crown Vantage Paper Mill in Parchment.
People in the community saw smoke and flames shooting out of the mill about 1:45 a.m. and called 911.
Crews from several departments responded and spent about three hours tackling the flames.
Now fire officials are telling Newschannel 3, they may never discover what caused the massive fire.
Fire crews used thousands of gallons of water to control the raging flames.
Parchment Mayor Robert Heasley tells us it's the biggest fire he's seen in 66 years.
"We had a virtual army of firefighters from all over Kalamazoo County there, and my first fear was that somebody was going to get hurt there," said Mayor Heasley.
The Kalamazoo Township Fire Marshall tells us the fire likely started in the third floor, but there is no safe way investigators can get to it because the wooden stairs have been eaten away by flames.
And the fire marshal says he won't risk someone's life in order to look for clues as to how the fire started.
That means fire officials have not ruled out arson, but likely won't be able to confirm it either way.
The mayor tells us its possible someone started it, whether it was intentionally set or not.
"You know it was the first cold night of the year, of the fall, so I could almost understand if somebody was in there and wanted to stay warm they would gather up some things and start a little fire, or it might have been vandalism, or arson, I don't know," said Mayor Heasley.
But what is known, is that a historic piece of Parchment's history has been destroyed.
82-year-old Gene Frary shared some of his youngest memories with us, as he looked at old pictures of the mill back in its heyday.
Frary says his father worked there in the 1930's.
"My mother would send me down there in the evening to go deliver his lunch to him, and I'd go down there when I was six, seven years old, barefoot and deliver it," said Frary.
As far as the next step for the mill, the Mayor says that's up to River Reach Development, the company that owns the property, but there were plans to demolish it before the fire.
Mayor Heasley says he plans on sending a letter to all the fire departments to thank them for their effort to get the fire under control.