|Daniel Pratt Cotton Mill Fire
The Prattville Manufacturing Company was founded in 1846 by Daniel Pratt, also the founder of our city. These buildings were completed in or around 1859. This cotton mill was the largest in the world at that time and employeed well over a hundred workers. The Confederate Army wore the uniforms that were made here. After the Civil war, the mill expanded again and continued until just a few years ago. The mill has been empty since the late 1990's and about four years ago, the fire sprinkler system was taken out of service. On 10 September 2002 around 11pm, the Prattville Fire Department responded to this 3 Alarm fire. The fire had a head start on the arriving units, and a defensive attack was called. Assistance from several neighboring departments were not only appreciated, but badly needed. Arial trucks from Montgomery and Millbrook joined in the battle and stood beside both of Prattville's elevated streams. Many of the volunteers brought man power and pumpers. After an all nighter, we had the dragon knocked down to size, but he continued to spit smoke and fire for several days.
For over a 140 years, this old building survived a civil war, floods, business failures and "Father Time." The new owners of the building had planned to restore the building and had hoped it would become a calling card in revitalizing the downtown Prattville area. After the fire fight ended, the scene looked more like a WWII news reel. With portions of the building standing and piles of brick rubble and rising smoke, you almost expect to hear the someone yell "Air Raid."
The old building has been a rally site over the past few days. Lots of stories of grandpa working at the mill and the 5 cent soda box. Folks are quick to tell their stories to perfect strangers who stop to look at the ruins. A few people even venture up the Fire Line tape to snatch a brick as a souvenir.
As bad as it may seem, at least there were no fire fighter injuries.
As far as stories about the ghost that haunted the halls of the old mill, I guess the merchants of the other historic buildings in Prattville can expect a midnight visit from time to time.
Who knows, maybe this tragic end will open a new page in Prattville history with a few more stories to tell.
(Update: 5 youths were caught, charged and convicted of arson and theift of property by the State and Prattville Fire Marshal's Office)