Early-morn­ing fire de­stroys his­toric site

1899 flour mill had been un­der­go­ing ren­o­va­tions

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By the Gree­ley Tri­bune

WIND­SOR» Fed­eral and state of­fi­cials are in­ves­ti­gat­ing what caused a fire that de­stroyed a his­toric mill in Wind­sor. The the blaze early Sun­day de­stroyed the Wind­sor Mill. No in­juries were re­ported.

Smoke per­me­ated Wind­sor’s streets, and foam in­su­la­tion de­bris lit­tered sur­round­ing streets.

The fed­eral Bureau of Al­co­hol, Tobacco, Firearms and Ex­plo­sives and the Colorado Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion are in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

Mayor Kristie Me­len­dez said ev­ery­one in town had been ex­cited that the 1899 flour mill, listed on the Na­tional Register of His­toric Places, was be­ing trans­formed. Fort Collins-based de­vel­oper Blue Ocean was work­ing to­ward a fall open­ing of a brew­ery, a restau­rant and of­fice space in the build­ing.

The town sup­ported a $3.7 mil­lion eco­nomic in­cen­tive pack­age for the build­ing’s ren­o­va­tion.

“We had so many folks ex­cited about the di­rec­tion we had taken for that,” Me­len­dez said.

This isn’t the first time the mill has faced a set­back: It was hit by a tor­nado in 2008.

Me­len­dez said she hopes Blue Ocean will work to re­build af­ter the fire.

“They hope that enough re­mains there that they can come back in and re­build,” she said.

Steve Schroyer, di­rec­tor of real es­tate for Blue Ocean said, “We’re just in assess­ment mode right now. All we know is it’s burned pretty much to the ground.” Schroyer said the com­pany does have in­sur­ance on the build­ing.

An area brew­ery owner, who did not give his name, said an an­nounce­ment of the busi­nesses sched­uled to fill the his­toric build­ing had been com­ing soon.

“We were pretty ex­cited,” he said.

But now de­vel­op­ers and the town will just have to wait and hope, Me­len­dez said.

On Sun­day morn­ing, many Wind­sor res­i­dents held each other close as they turned out to see the dam­age.

“What hor­ri­ble news we all woke up to this morn­ing,” Me­len­dez said.

The mill re­minded res­i­dents of their agri­cul­tural his­tory, Me­len­dez said.

“I think the mill tes­ti­fied to all of us where our his­tory and where our roots come from,” she said.

Al­though the news had many res­i­dents in tears, Me­len­dez said she was grate­ful no one was hurt.

Crews worked to cut the gas line to the build­ing Sun­day morn­ing. Rick Klimek, Wind­sor po­lice chief, said Main Street was closed un­til late af­ter­noon.

In ad­di­tion to Wind­sor Sev­er­ance Fire Res­cue per­son­nel, work­ers from the fol­low­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions as­sisted: Front Range Fire Res­cue, Love­land Fire Res­cue, Poudre Fire Au­thor­ity, Ea­ton Fire Res­cue, Berthoud Fire, UC Health EMS, Weld County Sher­iff, Weld County Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Wind­sor Po­lice De­part­ment, Wind­sor Pub­lic Works and Xcel En­ergy.

De­bris was vis­i­ble on roads sev­eral blocks away from the mill.

Wind­sor-Sev­er­ance Fire Chief Herb Brady de­scribed the fire as prob­a­bly the largest in the town’s his­tory in terms of dam­age and de­struc­tion.

The fire was re­ported at 1:49 a.m., and Brady said there were re­ports of an ex­plo­sion or mul­ti­ple ex­plo­sions dur­ing the fire. He said that’s not un­usual for a build­ing that is un­der con­struc­tion. He said it could take a week to de­ter­mine the cause of the fire.

“What hor­ri­ble news we all woke up to this morn­ing . ... I think the mill tes­ti­fied to all of us where our his­tory and where our roots come from.”

Kristie Me­len­dez, Wind­sor mayor

Joshua Pol­son, Gree­ley Tri­bune

Fire­fight­ers stand near the re­mains of the Wind­sor Mill af­ter a fire Sun­day. Fed­eral and state of­fi­cials are in­ves­ti­gat­ing what caused the fire.

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