The former Charlestown Mall in Utica went up in flames on Thursday morning, August 27th, at about 1:00 a.m. according to the Utica Fire Department. Several fire companies participated in attempting to put out the fire that engulfed the entire property.

An air quality warning was issued because of the toxic smoke cloud that consumed the sky and spread to communities as far away as Clinton, New Hartford, Barneveld and other areas west of Utica.

(Photo courtesy of Joseph Betrus for WIBX)
(Photo courtesy of Joseph Betrus for WIBX)

The old manufacturing building that was built in the early 1900s, and manufactured weapons during WWI and WWII. It was converted into an outlet mall in the 1970's. The concept, probably ahead of its time, lasted about a decade. After that, there were several unsuccessful campaigns to revive the complex including a restaurant, bar, print shop,  and Off Track Betting (OTB).

Over the years, the enormous building has deteriorated with roofs caving in and outdoor spaces becoming overgrown with weeds and trees. There were a handful of small fires over the years and police reported that the property was being used by squatters. Recently, there was a concern over the dangers of the aging facility and it was secured to prevent people from entering. Portions of the building, located in the Town of Frankfort and the City of Utica, had become dangerous and needed to be torn down. The two municipalities and the owner were negotiating the possible demolition, when the most recent fire broke out. It's currently unknown what caused the fire.

In August of 2018, WIBX joined local photographer Nancy L. Ford in a tour of the facility. It was truly rundown and many of the spaces had become too dangerous to enter. Here's the video that we captured. It's unedited and raw footage from August 2, 2018.

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