AMERICAN FORK Daniel Copper's warehouse full of antiques from American Fork's past went up in flames Wednesday night despite firefighters' efforts to contain the fire.
The smell of smoke and burned wood still permeated the air on Thursday afternoon as Copper sat and glumly stared at the black mess that was once filled with his treasures.
The night before, neighbor David Bezzant stood on a high dirt hill behind the 119-year-old Star Flour Mill and watched three-story-high flames reduce the warehouses to charred rubble.
Two passers-by saw the flames at 147 E. and 600 South Wednesday around 7:15 p.m. and called police.
Five American Fork fire department trucks and one truck from the Lone Peak Public Safety District responded with six men on each truck.
It took crews more than two hours to put out the fire, and one truck stayed the night to ensure no hot spots flared up.
"I'm still devastated," said Copper on Thursday. "But American Fork has been amazing, and the firefighters worked hard to save the main building."
The fire burned especially hot, said American Fork Fire Chief Jay Christensen, because of the corrugated aluminum around the outside of the building.
When the wood burned, the aluminum fell over and essentially cloistered and encouraged the fire.
Firefighters used pike poles to push the red-hot metal aside so they could spray water on the fire underneath, Christensen said.
Three newly built empty homes just west of the mill were not damaged.
Stacie Schoonover, 19, who lives east of the mill, said she ran outside when she saw the fire out her kitchen window. She and others helped move vehicles away from the area to make way for firetrucks.
Schoonover said the flames rose about 45 feet.
Copper said much of the city's history was being stored in the buildings that were destroyed. Besides antiques, the buildings stored historic maple flooring, windows and other parts from older buildings that had been taken apart and were ready for reassembling.
"I'm sad and shocked by the loss," said City Councilwoman Heidi Rodeback. "He was a fixture in our community, and (the mill) is a focal point for the city."
Crews spent an intense two hours working to douse the blaze. After the blaze was put out, firefighters could be seen atop extended ladders hovering over the still-smoking structure injecting it with a steady spray until after 10 p.m. At least one fire team stayed until 4 a.m. on Thursday.
Officials still don't know what caused the fire. but state Fire Marshal Ron Morris said a three-man team of investigators spent Thursday evaluating the site and looking for clues."They finally had to stop because of the dark," Morris said. He said investigators hope to have something conclusive sometime today.