Lightning eyed in 180-year-old bell factory fire

May 29, 2012 - 9:45 AM

EAST HAMPTON, Conn. (AP) — East Hampton's fire marshal says a lightning strike likely started a fire that destroyed a factory that claims to be the nation's last that makes only bells.

Rich Klotzbier says the cause of the blaze the Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Co. is officially "undetermined." But he says authorities believe the building was hit by a powerful storm that moved through the area Saturday afternoon.

Bevin Brothers says it's the only company still manufacturing just bells in the United States. It dates its East Hampton bell manufacturing to 1832.

The company is the last of a once-thriving industry that earned East Hampton the nickname, "Belltown, USA."

More than 300 firefighters responded to the blaze Saturday night. Klotzbier said Tuesday that the state fire marshal's office assisted the investigation.