2 mills slated for redevelopment destroyed by fire

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Firefighters in eastern Connecticut were very busy early Saturday morning.

At 1:53 a.m., calls came in reporting a fire at an abandoned mill at 9 Babcock Hill Road in South Windham. Chief Jan Mott told News 8 they received 37 911 calls about that fire.

Then, two hours later at 3:56 a.m., a second vacant mill was reported on fire in Killingly

Flames could be seen rising into the dark night from the the former ACME textile and cotton mill on Bailey Hill Road in Killingly. Both mills were slated for redevelopment.

“I’d hate to see it just stand as a burned out relic,” said James Benini of Windham. “It would be so much better if something were done with the site.”

Related Content: Investigators trying to determine what sparked 2 mill fires

And something still may be done.

“It’s devastating in the short term, but again, this building wasn’t moving very quickly on the manufacturing plans. Maybe it creates a new opportunity. It all remains to be seen,” said Jim Bellano, director of Economic Development for Windham.

He said while it had been difficult to retrofit the original building to meet current building and fire codes, it may be more economical for the owner to now build from the ground up. 

“We understand the owner was fully insured and this could be an opportunity,” said Bellano. “The owner will have to make a decision whether he wants to go forward with it.”

Related Content: Multiple companies extinguish blaze at the old Acme Mill in Killingly

“The guys who worked there built my first go-kart for me,” said Matt Vertefeuille, the spokesperson for Windham.

He grew up in the neighborhood surrounding the mill first built in 1828. He’s wondering if there’s a future for the manufacturing site as residential use.

“Maybe it’s an opportunity for zoning to take a look at the property. It’s in the middle of a small village,” said Vertefeuille.

Both fires remain under investigation.

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