EAST HAMPTON, Conn. (WTNH) -- Firefighters in East Hampton spent the day putting out hotspots at the historic Bevin Bell factory that burned to the ground over the weekend.
That company is the only remaining bell factory in the United States.
It's hard to go anywhere in East Hampton and not find someone whose family member or friend worked at the Bevin Bell factory. The family-run company was growing; it had just hired some new employees in the last couple of weeks, but the fire has now left the future of the company in jeopardy.
"It's just too much, it really is," said Lynda Yeaton.
Yeaton worked at the factory in East Hampton for 20 years. She left the company a year ago and when she heard about the devastating fire that destroyed the factory Saturday night, she called many of her former colleagues.
"I couldn't believe it," Yeaton said. "I just felt so bad for the people that were there because like I said we were like family and now they're all out of a job."
"There's not a generation of recollection in this town that doesn't remember having a family member or friend, a neighbor or somebody who worked in this factory," said factory owner Matt Bevin, "it is a part of the fabric of this community."
Family-run Bevin Brothers Manufacturing has been making bells in East Hampton since 1832, but on Saturday, in a matter of minutes, a fire threatened to end that history and the livelihoods of the company's 26 employees.
"There is a lot of pain that's been inflicted on this community and the surrounding communities whose lives were intertwined with the success of this factory," Bevin said.
One employee, who worked there for 14 years, stopped by to the scene Monday.
"I don't know, I am confused," the employee said.
"For some first generation Americans who are here this is their entire livelihood," Bevin said, "it's the only place they ever worked in America, it's where they've raised their children because of this place."
While Bevin's trying to pick up the pieces, his employees and town residents are holding on to every piece they own from the factory.
"I'll treasure the few that I've got," said Yeaton. "It'll bring back a lot of memories for me."
Bevin's great-great-great-grandfather started the company. He says he wants to find a way to keep the company going, but he's not sure whether or not that will be possible.
"It's such a devastating loss what happened, it's just sad," said Mike Doran, Chatham Historical Society. "It's sad because they were a mainstay in this community forever."
Those in East Hampton aren't the only ones affected by the fire.
"I just don't know what I'm going to do, it's just so sad," said Bob Bell, Essex Steam Train, The Valley Road Company.
Bell orders more than 20,000 bells from the company each year and hands them out to kids aboard the North Pole Express.
"Even the sound is so good from their bells I get everyone ringing them on the North Pole and it's so wonderful to hear that sound," Bell said.
For 180 years, Bevin Brothers Manufacturing has made bells for companies throughout the world. Its bells are used by the Salvation Army, and have been featured at the Olympics, presidential inaugurations and in movies like It's A Wonderful Life.
Whether or not Bevin bells will be ringing in the future now remains up in the air.
"It would never be the same, we'd have to change. I could never do a bell again, it just doesn't fit," Bell said. "I'm just kind of stunned as to what to do next. I have a call in to Matt Bevin and if they were to start again we'd be there in a second."
His is one of many calls Matt Bevin has received and plans to consider when contemplating the future of the business.
"It's easy to sit here and say we're going to rise from these ashes," Bevin said. "I certainly intend to if there's any possibility, but I don't know if it's a possibility."
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