Vacant mills continue to be concerns in Norwich

NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH) — The old Capehart Mill has been vacant for several years and it has been the scene of several suspicious fires. When it burned in April 2010 it was the third suspicious fire in as many days.

Abandoned buildings continue to cause concern in the city.

“There could be hazardous materials that we just don’t know,” said Norwich Fire Battalion Chief Greg Despathy.

Recently five juveniles were arrested for arson at the former YMCA and a massive mill on Franklin Street.

capehart mill Vacant mills continue to be concerns in Norwich“That building has caused us to put a plan together for all of the buildings to really put it in the forefront of what we look at,” said Despathy.

Norwich’s arson task force is now back in action trying to board up buildings and stop more fires from being set. The task force has identified 30 abandoned buildings in the city and is hoping not to add more to that list.

The former Atlantic Packaging Corporation shut down last month after more than 100 years on North Main Street. On Wednesday, the ten buildings failed to sell at auction, but the owners are still working to find a buyer.

“It would be a benefit for the community if it stayed open and that there’s somebody in there and it’s occupied and not vacant,” said Fawn Kleeman whose husband owns Kleeman’s Service Center.

That business is in a building once part of the Atlantic Packaging property, which is adjacent to the former Capehart Mill.

“Any of the large buildings are a concern,” said Despathy.

Firefighters face many challenges going into vacant mills which are sometimes broken into by homeless people, vandals and even kids.

The buildings might not be safe and the fires have plenty of room to spread.

“Once the fire has taken hold of the structure itself they are hard to extinguish,” said Despathy.


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