Fire destroys Old Dowlin Mill, Ruidoso's oldest building | KOB 4
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Fire destroys Old Dowlin Mill, Ruidoso's oldest building

J.R. Oppenheim and Brittany Costello
December 19, 2017 10:16 PM

RUIDOSO, N.M. -- Investigators are searching through the rubble after a fire destroyed a historic mill in Lincoln County.

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A radio station in Ruidoso reports a possible gas explosion at the Old Dowlin Mill sparked the fire and caused a power outage around midday Tuesday. Law enforcement officials have yet to confirm the cause.

Photos submitted to KOB show fire crews responding to the fire with smoke rising into the sky from the Old Dowlin Mill, located on Sudderth Drive. KEDU Radio 102.3 FM reports emergency personnel shut down Sudderth Drive.

KEDU also reports a local daycare center evacuated to a nearby inn and all the children are safe.

Nearly 4,000 PNM customers in Ruidoso. Beth Steiner, a resident in Ruidoso, told KOB that power was out for a couple of hours. PNM crews restored power later in the afternoon.

Steiner said she could get within one mile of the mill before hitting the roadblock, and Fish and Wildlife officials directed traffic. She said she couldn't see any smoke from her vantage point.

Turkeyfoot Pipeworks is right across the street from the old mill. Owner Billy Ray Tuinstra said he heard a loud boom, then discovered it was on fire.

"There were metal sheets and pieces on insulation scattered throughout the street for about 50 to 60 feet down the street, and the entire stone structure was still intact," he said.

The old mill attracts several tourists on the weekends but it's not as busy during the week," Steiner said.

"But the old mill, oh, if you've never been down here, that place is absolutely awesome," she said. It is full of history. For a history buff like me, that place was loveable. And now it's gone."

The current owners of the mill said they are absolutely devastated. They don't believe they will ever be able to restore to its former glory.

The mill was built in 1868 and was used as a grist mill, a sawmill, a gift shop and an art gallery, according to the Village of Ruidoso Tourism Department. It has the only remaining operable water wheel in the southwest.

The village's website also says Billy the Kid even used the mill to escape capture.

"It was the pivot of the community getting started," said Harvey Twite, president of KEDU Radio. "There's really no other building in Ruidoso quite like it."

Credits

J.R. Oppenheim and Brittany Costello

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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