[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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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by whatever on Jun 16, 2011 at 05:53 AM
    I thinks it's a safe bet that if your first name ends in "avious" or "arious" - you are a dangerous person.
  • by OL Location: Quincy on Jun 16, 2011 at 03:45 AM
    ok ,,two arrested,,, 2 more the find outstanding guys ,,,just 2 more of the thugs that rome the streets..
  • by Anonymous Location: Quincy on May 19, 2011 at 02:10 PM
    Mighty convenient to let the City of Quincy foot the bill for destruction of the old mill. Letting neighbors clean up the debris to sell indicates some telling forethought to me. Let's watch and see what that spot gets used for in the future.
    • reply
      by City TAX payer on Jun 16, 2011 at 03:43 AM in reply to Anonymous
      If the City footed the bill for destruction ,,this is WRONG WRONG ..Why should tax payer money footer the bill for this b/s?? This old mill was owned by NFEDC,Mrs.Ford in charge ,,this should be invested and the city explain WHY they used the tax payed money for this ,,--yes your right ,let seewhat the place is going to be used for now..come JACK,,tell us why this happen..
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Jun 16, 2011 at 05:51 AM in reply to City TAX payer
        explain how the city footed the bill,(by putting the fire out?) I cant follow your logic!?!Since, a pack of criminals burned the structure down arent they responsible? OR is that too logical. And what business is it of any ones what goes up there next? Or are you interested in purchasing the property in this economy? Stop being stuck on stupid!
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Jun 16, 2011 at 09:36 AM in reply to
          your about as stupid as they come,,,,go back and read the post again,,,,,sure its the FD job to put the fire out ,,,but that was not what the destruction/clean up post was about ...hello ... if the city help clean it up and helps but something with T/payers dollars ,,mummmmm,
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 16, 2011 at 05:45 AM in reply to Anonymous
      Ok, what now?
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 16, 2011 at 11:23 AM in reply to Anonymous
      I must be missing something too. All the city did was put the fire out.
  • by Dee Location: Quincy on May 19, 2011 at 01:20 PM
    You guys(FF)(volly) don't have to explain yourselves to outsiders...they didn't get out of bed to help...They just sit back and judge...But we all know there can't be but one Judge and that's my father and savior Jesus Christ...some people are so heartless...people please don't be so quick to Judge,blame, and comdemn...Get the facts...But your opinion is appreciated...and that's just what it is an opinion, whether good,bad or just plain STUPID!!!
  • by city emplotee Location: quincy on May 14, 2011 at 11:08 AM
    to,,,Very concerned Citizen ...I do not know where you got you information about a 17% manpower cut ,,but your very wrong ..check out what I 'm fixing to tell you ... 5 years ago ,, 21 fighters ,1 chief,1 asst,chief and 1 sec..... check today, then let us know what you find as far as number of people working there ..on the pay roll
    • reply
      by Concerned Citizen on May 16, 2011 at 11:51 AM in reply to city emplotee
      21 fulltime firefighter positions reduced to 17 fulltime posistions = 17% reduction in manpower. I was told the City hired 4-6 parttime firefighters but they can only work when one of the fulltime personnel takes off that would create a shortage in staffing. I was also told that they still have a fire chief, the person occupying the office that was once an asst chief is now a captain and the sec is still on board. So I guess on paper, city employee, the city sees no reduction in manpower. Fortunately, fires aren't fought on paper.
  • by Daffodil Location: Quincy on May 13, 2011 at 06:34 PM
    This mill is owned by the North Florida Educational Development Corporation, which was founded by Carolyn Ford, of Gretna. The night before there was another suspicious fire, only one block away, It is owned by Ford Construction and associates. How many other fires have there been recently that can be traced to a "Ford"?
    • reply
      by mimi on May 18, 2011 at 07:07 PM in reply to Daffodil
      how about auburn ford in midway getting into an "altercation" with firefighters in his yard while burning trash? remember, he had to go to hospital because of a terrible scratch he sustained.....and to validate the upcoming lawsuit I'm sure
      • reply
        by stupiditystomper on May 18, 2011 at 08:57 PM in reply to mimi
        Have you even thought about or knew that he pressed criminal charges against the firefighters and not civil action and maybe just maybe retaliation was in someones mind?
    • reply
      by Responding to the Flowere on May 18, 2011 at 08:52 PM in reply to Daffodil
      Daffodil, none!! Just beacause a family is well known in a community does not mean that anything insideous is going on! No one is talking about all the good works and community volunteerism that has come out of this family! And by the way, the farmers market just stop operating 2 years ago and was the only site in the county taking WIC vouchers for fresh produce. Get a life and stop hating!
  • by Kiki on May 13, 2011 at 06:10 PM
    I'm from Quincy but don't live there anymore and I'm trying to figure out exactly where it was, can anyone help? I know it's down from the fire station...past Crawford?
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 15, 2011 at 11:27 AM in reply to Kiki
      WHen you come down the first hill on S Adams it is on the Rt. GF&A Dr. Runs into where the mill was
  • by Very Concerned Citizen Location: Quincy on May 13, 2011 at 02:36 PM
    I read this thread and I think it is a joke. QFD has had its manpower cut 17% by its current City Manager...so they did a smart job by requesting assistance from the VFD's. You had a very large fire with potential for numerous exposure fires up to a block or two away from the actual fire. All of this was being relayed over the radio by QFD fire personnel. To take strategic positions around the fire to protect the homes that surrounded the area from catching fire is what firefighting is all about. It's not so much about putting out a fire that has fully engulfed an old feed mill made out of heavy timber and fat lighter, but it is about making sure that said fire doesn't spread to nearby homes and property. Firedawg sounds bitter and is quick to say he is a ff2 and can do the same thing as paid guys can which leads me to ask "Why aren't you paid then?" Are you employable as a FF or do you just get off throwing the ff's under the bus?
    • reply
      by Pete on May 14, 2011 at 08:02 PM in reply to Very Concerned Citizen
      Like I said to the others Firedawg hasn't said anything of the such. Why do people act like this when someone says something that so many are thinking. This man or woman has some balls and doesn't desrve to be talked about like this. Again, I am with and I know of several others who have said they would like to shake Firedawgs hand for speaking up for Volly folks. With all the cuts is why Firedawg may not be a pd FF. But Volly IS a fireman too. So to all u who have nothing better to do than to put words in peoples mouths GET A LIFE..... Keep on doing good for others and being there for ur brother FF.
  • by corrine Location: quincy on May 13, 2011 at 01:11 PM
    This mill should have been demolished years ago, I say about 20 at the most. There are too many abandoned houses and old buildings that is just waiting for some nut to play firecracker with them. Tear down these eyesores and use the land for something else. The city commissioners need to be blamed for this. Get the owners of these structures to tear them down if they are not going to be used anymore.
    • reply
      by only me on May 13, 2011 at 03:20 PM in reply to corrine
      I wish I could get some of that wood out of those old buildings.
    • reply
      by thinker on May 14, 2011 at 08:00 AM in reply to corrine
      Corrine, are you volunteering to help out the owners of these buildings in some way, then?? Are YOU willing to take some of your own PERSONAL time and try to help bring down some of these buildings? Have you volunteered for ANYTHING - community related - in the last two years, in QUincy, for Quincy???
  • by FF for life on May 13, 2011 at 12:59 PM
    how come everyone is fighting over who did what and who's more certified. when times like thses happen we all need to forget rank and which dept. is better because in the end we are there to protect the ones in need. i was there but i didnt get to go down and help with the mill because if you didnt know we had fire up at the houses happening from the embers falling so i was up there having to save peoples houses and property. but in the end we everyone played an important role in helping others and did a great job working together.
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