[UPDATE] Arrests Made in Suspicious Quincy Feed Mill Fire

By: Eyewitness News; Jerry Askin Email
By: Eyewitness News; Jerry Askin Email

UPDATE 6-15-2011

Nina Ashley with the Florida Fire Marshal’s Office says two arrests have been made in the Quincy arsons.

Dontarius Smith who is now in the Gadsden County Jail and a 16 year old juvenile who was transported to Juvenile Assessment.

They’re both charged with two counts of arson for the feed mill warehouse fire on May 12 which destroyed the mill and a house fire on June 10 at 219 S. Stewart St. that caused significant damage.

It’s believed from their investigation that the house fire was started by the two when they piled brush inside the home, poured gasoline over it and then it is alleged that Smith lit the brush on fire with a cigarette lighter.

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UPDATE 05-18-2011 at 6:00pm by Jerry Askin

The Quincy Feed Mill caught fire last Thursday and fire marshals say the fire is suspicious. But now, the owner of the feed mill is allowing residents to help clean up the debris and in return they can make some extra cash by selling the old scrap left on the property.

Carolyn Ford walks along her property still saddened by what she sees. The Quincy Feed Mill caught fire last Thursday. But she wants something positive to come from the ashes.

"People working out here trying to get it cleaned up and everything, so that's the upside, but that's the only upside," says Ford.

"Making the world look like a better place, a catastrophe happened like this and we here to clean it up. This our job. This what we do," says Travis McClain who helped clean up the debris.

The owner is allowing folks in the community like McClain to help clear the feed mill property of the debris and make some extra cash by trading in the metal scraps left from last week's fire.

"We just out here trying to clean the place up. I know somebody’s gonna have to do it," says Wiley McClain.

The owner says in taking the scrap metal for money, they must also take pieces of burnt wood to help clean the site.

Folks like John Robby were at the feed mill as early as six a.m., piling his pickup truck with loads of scrap just to fill his pockets with a little cash and help others.

We went along with Robby as he traded in the scrap at a Tallahassee savage yard. And he made several hundred dollars.

Robby says, "It's not a whole lot, but it's a days work and I feel like if someone can help me, I can help someone else."

The state fire marshal's office is investigating the fire as an arson fire and as suspicious.

They're offering a cash reward to anyone with information.

Stay tuned to our website for the latest on the story.

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UPDATE 05-13-2011 at 6:30pm by Jerry Askin

Firefighters battled all night to control a blaze at an abandoned feed mill in Quincy. They were hoping to keep it from reaching nearby homes and investigators say the fire may not have been an accident.

Birda Pete says her neighbor came banging on her door just before nine Thursday night to warn her about a huge fire at the Quincy Feed Mill - just across the street from Pete's home.

Pete says, "The lady said get up and get out the house, ‘that building is on fire.’ ‘I said, “Building?’ Then I opened the door and looked and I could see nothing, but fire."

Pete says the flames were as high as the trees and all she could think about was the fire spreading to her home and about a dozen others nearby.

"You can get material things back, but you can't get a life back - and I got out of here. And that's all I saw was that huge fire. That was a huge fire," says Pete.

George Russ who also witnessed Thursday night's blaze says, "When I got here, man, it was bad. It was just flames. It was high."

Neighbors say they're just glad the fire did not spread to their homes.

"I'm very glad everyone made it out safely. It was a huge success, but I'm really going to miss the feed mill. It was a historic place," says Russ.

The question many folks are asking is what could cause this massive fire at the abandoned feed mill.

"I don't know who did it, what started it, why. I don't know. I don't know," says Tyrone Grant who witnessed the blaze.

The investigation has been turned over to the state fire marshal’s office. But investigators say they can't go inside the building to find out what caused the fire because the fire is still smoldering.

But deputies are calling the fire suspicious because there have been several other recent blazes in that area.

We'll keep you posted on any new developments.

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[UPDATE] 5-13 Noon -

A feed mill is completely destroyed in Gadsden County after fire officials work for hours to douse the blaze.

Rubble is all that's left of the feed mill that was completely destroyed last night. You could still feel the heat and smell the smell the smoke at noon the next day.

Fire officials say they got the call 8:40 last night at the Feed Mill on South Jackson Street in Gadsden county. As fire officials worked to put out the blaze, police evacuated nearby homes. Power was down for a few hours but has been restored.

A neighbor said she could feel the heat from her yard and that the fire was as high as the trees.

Fire officials are still investigating the cause of this suspicious fire.

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Around 8:40 last night 5-12 Quincy Fire and Police Departments responded to a roaring inferno at GFA Drive.

Police immediately evacuated nearby homes and firefighters went to work putting out the flames.

Fire officials did get the blaze under control and did not expect any other evacuations, but said firefighters would stay on scene throughout the night to control smoldering flames.

Neighbors say thanks to the fire department's quick response, nearby homes were saved from the blaze.

12-year-old Dorian Croskey says he could see the fire out of the window in his room.

"We were nervous and scared and stuff because we thought it was going to spread to our house because it had already spread to the fruit stand over there."

Power was down in the area for a few hours, but fire officials said they expected to get folks back in their homes and get power up and running by this morning.

At this time no injuries have been reported. Investigators on the scene believe the fire to be "suspicious." We'll keep you posted as more information becomes available.


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