YORK -- The smoke has long cleared and the charred remains hauled away. But the mystery of what started the Lockmore Mill fire still burns in Dominic Manera's mind.
"There's not a day that goes by where I don't think about it," the York fire chief said. "Hopefully, one of these days someone will talk."
Since April, Manera and state officials have been investigating the cause of a suspicious fire that burned through York's Lockmore Mill on a Thursday night in mid-April. They still don't have all the answers. The cause is unknown.
The intense fire created black smoke seen for miles. It destroyed all but one wing of the century-old cotton mill at the corner of Hunter and Madison streets near downtown York. No one was injured.
But four days after the fire, Manera and state officials agreed the fire looked suspicious. It didn't follow the normal patterns of an accidental fire. He asked anyone who might have knowledge of the fire's cause to step forward.
Manera recently said a few tips led to "people of interest." But there wasn't enough evidence to rule anyone out or determine the exact cause. Evidence of potential accelerants would have been destroyed in the blaze, Manera said. Though witnesses reported hearing an explosion about the time the fire began.
Manera said he isn't prepared to rule arson as the cause. There might be someone with information that indicates it was just an accident, he said.
But unless someone with information comes forward, the truth will remain shrouded.
The red brick building, vacant since the 1960s and overgrown for years, was in the middle of a renovation project that would have turned it into apartments for senior adults. Construction workers left for the night less than an hour before flames engulfed the work site.
Manera said the builder plans to continue with construction. City officials are reviewing modified plans for the site.
But that's just a consolation prize. York officials want to know the truth about what started the devastating fire.
"This is similar to the death of our city staff member (Ernest Tolbert)," Manera said. "Because you can't have closure until you know exactly what happened."
And like police in the Tolbert case, Manera said he will continue investigating until the truth is uncovered.
"The case is still open," Manera says. "We're hoping one day that phone will ring."