PRINCETON – The Johnston County Fire Marshal’s Office says the cause of a fire that destroyed a century old building in Downtown Princeton can’t be determined. At 6:50pm Wednesday, fifteen fire departments from two counties responded to the old Gurley Mill building at 120 S. Pine Street. The fire destroyed the building, damaged four nearby structures and one car.
Assisted by the NC Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Princeton Fire Department, the Johnston County Fire Marshal’s Office interviewed several witnesses and determined the fire started in the back portion of the building.
Johnston County Fire Marshal Adam Stanley said the origin was pinpointed to a storage area where the main electrical panels are located and where power went into the rear of the building. In the same area, there were numerous pieces of old equipment and heavy machines from the original Gurley Mill operations. Stanley said it was difficult to identify if any of the equipment was powered at the time of the fire and the exact layout of the structure within the area where the fire originated because of the extensive damage.
“The owner of the building hired a local contractor to bring in heavy equipment to work with investigators to remove large debris from around the structure. After completion of the investigation and conducting numerous witness interviews, the fire was determined to have started in the back portion of the building and a cause was unable to be determined,” Fire Marshal Stanley said. “The building was a total loss.”