Note: This story was last updated at 10 a.m. April 8.
CLINTON—Crews battled a fire inside the former Magnet Mills in Clinton on Thursday evening, and Clinton City Schools will be closed Friday, April 8.
Charles G. Seivers Boulevard was closed downtown Thursday night as crews fought the fire and prepared to remove items that were still smoldering inside.
Clinton City Schools said schools would be closed because of the fire and the roads that would be closed in the morning.
“This decision was made in an abundance of caution for the safety of our students and staff members,” school officials said.
The fire was reported at about 7:15 p.m. Thursday in one building at the former hosiery mill. The property includes two big, brick warehouse buildings next to CVS Pharmacy between Charles G. Seivers Boulevard and the Clinch River in downtown Clinton.
Firefighters did not enter the building because they weren’t sure of the condition of the structure or the contents inside, Clinton City Manager Roger Houck said. The building has been used for storage for several years.
The building was still smoldering a few hours after the fire started, and a trackhoe was brought in to start tearing out bricks on the east side of the building at about 10:15 p.m. Thursday. The idea was to allow firefighters to remove whatever was still smoldering inside the building, Houck said.
Firefighters sprayed water into the building from the eastern side. Houck said heavy smoke was coming out the front and sides of the building when he arrived.
The cause of the fire wasn’t known as of Thursday evening. The investigation could take several days, Houck said. There were no injuries.
The Clinton fire, police, and public works departments responded, and the Oak Ridge Fire Department sent its tower truck. The Anderson County Sheriff’s Department also responded to help control traffic and answer calls. The Tennessee Department of Transportation was reported to be on its way to help as well.
An auction had been set up between the property owner and the tenant, who had stored stuff in the building for several years, Houck said. He said the City of Clinton has been pursuing code violations against the property through its slum ordinance, and a hearing officer issued an order last week that part of the structure had to be vacated, demolished, and cleaned up. But that particular property is just to the west of the building that burned Thursday. It’s the second brick building, which is between CVS and the brick building that burned Thursday, Houck said. Under the order issued last week, all the property has to be cleaned, he said.
Magnet Mills made hose for women back in the 1950s, said Danny Treece, who said his father Albert Treece once ran the maintenance department. Magnet Mills probably shut down in the late 1960s or early 1970s, and the facility has had a few other uses, including building government bulletproof vests, Treece said.
Part of the complex was where CVS is now, and there was once a gravel parking lot where Charles Seivers Towers is now, Treece said. Many people once worked there, he said.
“This was Clinton,” he said.
Houck said the former Magnet Mills property is owned by Clinch River Properties LLC. He didn’t recall the name of the tenant but said the city has been dealing with an attorney instead.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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