A squad of Rock Hill firefighters had just handed off searching the old Bleachery textile mill, engulfed by an intentionally set fire a week earlier, when they saw smoke, reports heraldonline.com
Then more smoke. Then still more.
Another squad of firefighters was on the roof that day — July 10, 2009. Others were in another part of the building.
“We saw puffs of smoke and joked, saying, ‘It can’t be more fire,'” Capt. Scott Long said, five years later.
But it wasn’t more fire; it was another fire, set by the same guys who had set the July 3 fire that required the department’s every firefighter — both on-duty and off-duty — to contain it in a week of work. The fire was so huge, smoke could be seen in Charlotte and Chester, 25 miles away.
The fires were the single-largest use of fire department manpower and resources in the city’s history.
Two men would later plead guilty to setting both fires that destroyed a Rock Hill landmark, the huge plant that was sitting idle near downtown with hopes for development. They admitted later that they had heard firefighters walking around on the roof and in other rooms.
Still, they set fires again that could have hurt or killed these firefighters, who had been at the scene in shifts for a week.
Firefighters inside the building saw two men running away. Moments later, fire roared again.
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