Fire Chief: Vacant Paper Mill Fire Is Arson

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It’s been a landmark for more than 100 years.  Now, an early morning fire at the old Fox River Paper Mill is being investigated as arson. 

“We’ve had the fire marshal’s office in to help with this,” says Chief Tracy McMillen of the Southern Kalamazoo County Fire Authority (S.K.C.F.A.).  “(The fire has) two places origin, one away from the other one, and we know that for a fact.”

Hours after the blaze, heavy machinery is on site, tearing down walls.

“We couldn’t leave the structure, the walls are leaning and had given up,” McMillen explains.  “(it’s a) safety hazard.”

Most of the 432,000 square foot building was untouched, but a section - roughly 60,000 square feet that was rented out as storage space - was destroyed.   

‘’When we first arrived, we had fire through the roof.” 

That was just after 4:15 a.m.  The Chief says when the S.K.C.F.A. crew got on scene, they immediately called for backup.  Nine other departments showed up.

“It took us probably 45 minutes to slow (the fire) down, and another half hour to put it out.”

McMillen says the building has been mostly vacant for more than a decade, posing some unique challenges. 

“Businesses have moved out, fire doors have been removed, fire systems have been shut down,” he says.   “We found no one in (the building) today, but we have found evidence of people being inside - wrappers food, pop cans, stuff like that.”

Vicksburg Police Chief Eric West says the area is patrolled frequently to control trespassing, and avoid having “squatters” take up residence in the old mill.

No injuries were reported. 

The arson investigation has been turned over to Vicksburg Police Department.  If you have any information, please call Silent Observer.   



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