Arson suspected in fire at abandoned factory in Palatka

Fire officials in Palatka are investigating a possible arson at the Florida industries factory, a historic structure. News4Jax reporter Brie Isom tells us about why this building is important.

PALATKA, Fla. – The state fire marshal will consider arson as the possible cause of a fire that ripped through an abandoned factory on River Street in Palatka Sunday afternoon, according to the Palatka Fire Department.

Fire Chief Chris Taylor told News4JAX the preliminary investigation by responding firefighters raised suspicions since the factory was not occupied and doesn’t have electricity.

Flames were first noticed in the building around 4:15 p.m. The fire was fully extinguished by 6, Taylor said.

Property records show the building has been abandoned for years, pending renovation plans. The factory was built in the late-1800s and is 10,000 square feet.

A photo from the State Archives of Florida shows an aerial view of the building when Wilson Cypress Company and Florida Furniture Industries operated out of the space in the 1940s.

“I heard the fire trucks but I didn’t know where the fire was. We considered it a historic site and it’s unfortunate those existing buildings burned,” said historian Larry Beaton. “A lot of the main part of the business was already torn down. It was just the business offices. I’ve heard that somebody purchased that property recently and was going to refurbish the building.

The state fire marshal will determine the official cause.

The building on River Street holds historic significance for the city.

About the Authors:

Brie Isom joined the News4JAX team in January 2021 after spending three years covering news in South Bend, Indiana.