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Fire destroys Mills Locker Plant

The Mills Locker Plant has been a staple in New York Mills for decades.1 / 3
The Briards, Amanda, Montgomery, Mathias, Makenzie, Maverick and Whitman, are one of the most loved families in the New York Mills area. Their tragic loss is not only personal, but also felt by the entire community.2 / 3
The Mills Locker Plant in New York Mills burned to the ground Sunday and Monday. Five fire departments fought the blaze. No other buildings were damaged.3 / 3

A fire that began Sunday and stretched into Monday has destroyed the Mills Locker Plant in New York Mills.

The building and is a total loss. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

Amanda and Whitman Briard purchased the business when they were just teenagers.

Ten years and four children later, the Mills Locker Plant was one of the last meat lockers in the area. The business had just been remodeled, and the ten-year anniversary had been celebrated a little over a month ago.

The plant was full of processed meat during the time of the fire.

Five fire departments tried to save this building, but with no success. Luckily, no other buildings on the street were damaged.

"All it needed was air to get it moving. We could not save it," said New York Mills Fire Chief Reed Jacobson.

Family and friends say the couple is devastated.

"They did a fantastic job. It is just really sad. They have four young children and it is sad to see a family go through this. It is a bad deal," said family member Hunter Briard.

Not only does the family mourn the loss, but the town also mourns with them.

"You hate to see another business leave New York Mills," said Jacobson.

In spite of their loss, the family is still hopeful. A sign next to the burned locker plant tells the town that they are planning on reopening as soon as possible.

David Virnala, an employee at the locker plant during the 1970s, said the facility was built in the late 1940s and remained one of the best lockers in the nation.

Photos by Paul Gregersen/FOCUS