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Beacon plant destroyed by fire

Swannanoa, NC — Firefighters this morning were still battling a blaze that consumed and destroyed the former Beacon Mfg. blanket plant here, once the largest blanket producing facility in the country, with 1,200 jacquard looms covering 13 acres of manufacturing floor space.

The century-old, four-story plant was originally built in 1904 in New Bedford, MA, and in 1924 was relocated, brick by brick, to North Carolina. It had been vacant since the collapse last year of Beacon Blanket Co., the last in a long string of companies that had once owned and operated the plant.

For most of its history, the former Beacon Mfg. and its red-brick plant had been associated with the founding Owen family, which now operates the Charles D. Owen Mfg. division of Springs Industries.

The fire is believed to have started in the early morning hours today, and by late morning dark smoke still billowed over the Swannanoa Valley, fueled by the plant's million-square-feet of timber flooring on four stories.

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