GRANITE FALLS, N.C. (FOX 46) - Smoke is still coming out of the Old Shuford Mill building in Granite Falls, after a massive fire engulfed the building Friday night.
Firefighters are still on scene to make sure the fire doesn't start up again and telling FOX 46 that it will be another week before they can even enter the building.
"it was so hot, I didn't have a shirt on, they said I was cherry red like I had sunburn," Larry Stewart, lives near the mill, said.
People like Larry Stewart are finding ashes on their lawn and sadden by the outcome of the historic building.
"I worked there till it closed down," Stewart said.
“And now you are seeing it up in flames," Fox 46 Charlotte Reported Yolian Ortiz asked.
"It's like losing an old friend," Steward followed.
16 fire departments from Caldwell County and others from Burke and Catawba joined the battle to fight the massive fire.
"Fire station after fire station, just the whole county came together. I mean I can't say enough about these firefighters. I mean a lot of them are volunteer. They came out and worked tirelessly," Lee Jackson, lives near the mill, said.
Stewart is also a retired Granite Falls firefighter and he says this is the worst he's ever seen.
"It will never be the same to look up there again," Stewart said.
"I see countless fires on TV, big warehouses, but when you know the people, and have been in there with them. The owner took us in several years ago and said ‘look at what I'm doing here, look at this space’ you see what his passion is and working on that. It's very hard to watch," Jackson said.
Now that the building has collapsed, many in Granite Falls are afraid there won't be a way to restore it back to its full glory.
"I hope that this area would back the owner and help restore this because he really tried so hard to bring so much more to this area. Hopefully, it's not forgotten and at least part of it be build back," Jackson said.