WINDSOR, Colo. – A fire that engulfed the historic Windsor Mill in Weld County last weekend was intentionally set, and a $10,000 reward is now being offered for information that could lead authorities to the suspect or suspects responsible for destroying the 118-year-old flour mill.
"That's one of the big landmarks of Windsor, and part of what started this town. It's gone," long-time resident James Martinez said.
He and his family have lived directly across from the mill for years.
"When I just first learned to drive, I was hauling hay, going in there and getting weights from the truck scale that was there," Martinez said.
His concern is one shared by many Windsor residents -- the thought of an arsonist living in their community.
"Really disappoints you that someone in this town," he interrupted himself, pointing to the development that was expected in about a month, "I haven't heard anybody that was upset about it -- everybody's looking forward to it."
The announcement came after a week-long investigation by several different agencies, in partnership with the Denver field division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
“This fire did not need to happen. Someone caused it, so someone out there knows what took place that night. We hope they will come forward,” said ATF Denver Field Division Special Agent in Charge Debora Livingston.
The blaze was initially reported at around 1:49 a.m. following reports of massive flames coming out of a structure at 214 Main Street.
GALLERY: 118-year-old mill goes up in flames
Over 40 firefighters responded to the scene to battle an “extremely hot, extremely severe fire” that forced road closures for most of the day on Aug. 6.
“From our records, this is the largest fire in the history of Windsor,” said Windsor Severance Fire Rescue Chief Herb Brady.
Chief Brady "I am angry the firefighters had to put their lives on the line for an intentional fire."
— Windsor Severance Fi (@wsfr_colo) August 13, 2017
The chief said that because of the scope of the fire and the investigation, several agencies were also called to the scene and the ATF was called in to support in the arson investigation.
The chief also said the community of Windsor was strong and regardless of the hardships, “our community always stands up and demonstrates to the world what the power of community looks like.”
“Right now, we in Public Safety need to draw upon this community power to not only find whoever is responsible for this devastating fire, but to stand up in support of the recovery process. We will emerge stronger than ever,” said Brady.
— Amanda del Castillo (@AmandaDTV) August 13, 2017
The mill was built in 1899 and named to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1998. It was undergoing renovations after a devastating tornado in 2008, according to the Colorado Preservation, Inc. website. It was declared a total loss following the Aug. 6 fire.
The Windsor Police Department and Windsor Severance Fire Rescue will continue with the investigation with the assistance of the local ATF office.
Anyone with information on the fire is encouraged to call Windsor PD investigators Sgt. Shainline or Detective Hogsett at 970-674-6400; Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477); or email firstname.lastname@example.org. People can also submit a tip through ATF’s new “reportit” app available at www.reportit.com and at Google Play and the Apple App Store. All tips to the app are confidential and can be anonymous.