Owner of Former Flour Mill Working with City Following Damage from Fire
While a fire that significantly damaged a former flour mill in Longmont on Aug. 27 is still under investigation, fire officials say it will most likely be deemed accidental given the information gathered so far.
Meanwhile, city code enforcement is working with the owner to keep people off of the property and away from the building, which is considered an imminent danger due to the damage.
The initial information police dispatch received the night of the fire said it started in trees close by the building, which sits on property at the intersection of First Avenue and Terry Street, according to Fire Marshal Captain Michele Goldman.
Based on the damage, it appears the fire spread from brush around the building onto the roof, and then into the building itself.
While it’s possible a campfire started the fire, Goldman said they don’t believe there was any criminal intent.
Code Enforcement Officer Dane Hermsen has worked with the owner, Douglas Grant, to post the buildings on the site and put a construction site fence around the damaged building. Homeless people have been staying in the sheds and going into the silos, he said, so they are working with them to explain that they are considered inhabitable.
“I wasn’t aware of any activity on the property before this happened,” Hermsen said.
Attempts to contact Grant were unsuccessful.
The original news release from the fire department said the building was being used for storage and to grow hemp, but it’s unclear exactly what it was being used for.
While Hermsen didn’t know either, he believes it was related to hemp, either for drying out the plants or growing smaller ones.
The site would need to undergo a change of use through the city planning process for such a business, according to Hermsen, and the owner is now aware of that and is taking steps toward compliance.
“He’s been pretty cooperative,” Hermsen said.
The owner plans to demolish the part of the building that caught fire, which was a newer addition, Hermsen said. It’s roof was destroyed in the fire, along with other significant damage. The building is currently being tested for asbestos.
According to Goldman, the building didn’t have a certificate of occupancy and was considered “empty” by the fire department.
While it was originally reported that homeless people were hired to stay on the property and keep others from entering it, Hermsen said that isn’t totally clear.
“It kinda depends who you ask,” he said.
The owner told Hermsen he had hired people to clean up the property, but didn’t say they could move onto it. But when Hermsen spoke with some of the homeless people on the site, they said they were under the impression they were permitted to live there.
Madeline St. Amour: 303-684-5212, email@example.com