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Historic Building of Former István Mill Ruined by Fire in Békéscsaba

Fanni Kaszás 2019.05.22.

The former István mill in Békéscsaba burned down Tuesday night. Although the fire spread to a smaller outer building as well, the firefighters managed to curb it last night. They have since been focused on preventing further fires from occurring in the building.

Péter Lehoczky/MTI

The mill, situated in the city center, lit up around five p.m. yesterday and although firefighters quickly arrived, the flames had spread to every level of the building. The roof collapsed at around seven in the evening, followed by a collision of the ceiling structures. There are currently no reported injuries.

According to news portal behir.hu, this is not the first time that the building set on fire, as in 1915 the mill has been devastated by fire as well. The industrial monument has been standing for over a hundred years and has been empty for several years before catching fire yesterday evening once again. Firefighters arrived with six units from surrounding villages. The fire was stopped late at night, and emergency services are now securing the building by cooling it off and prevent it from catching fire again. The neighborhood was closed by the police.

Péter Lehoczky/MTI

The István mill was the first and largest steam mill in Békéscsaba. Its predecessor was built in 1853 by Antal Pain, a miller-engineer born in Hamburg. Later, Lipót Epstein and his family took it over. The building became the property of Márton Rosenthal, a soap and candlestick master, in 1872. By 1915, the Rosenthal mill was already one of the largest and most modern mills in the country. In 1914, it became a joint-stock company under the name First Békéscsaba-based Steammill Rosenthal Márton Inc. Not long before the devastating fire that first ruined the building in 1915, it was expanded and developed so that its products could be imported to the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

Péter Lehoczky/MTI

In 1915, during the First World War, the mill also played a significant role in military production and supply. Thus, its destruction was a major event.

photo: szombat.org

The first fire originated from an explosion caused by accumulated flour. A series of pictures depicting the building’s destruction can be seen at the Munkácsy Mihály Museum today.