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Fire leaves bell maker's future in doubt

May 29, 2012 at 8:00 PM

EAST HAMPTON, Conn., May 29 (UPI) -- The owner of a 180-year-old bell company in Connecticut says he may not be able to rebuild the factory gutted by a weekend fire.

Matt Bevin, whose family founded the Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Co. in 1832, said he would do his best to get the East Hampton factory going again, The Hartford Courant reported.

"It's easy to say 'we'll do this,' and 'we'll do that and we'll be back,' but there's a reason there's only one bell maker left," Bevin said. "It's hard to make bells in America."

Fire officials say the blaze was probably caused by a lightning strike during a storm that passed through the area Saturday afternoon. They believed it smoldered for several hours before bursting forth and being spotted by a neighbor.

A building official condemned the structure, believed to date from 1880, and ordered it demolished.

In the late 19th century, there were so many bell manufacturers in East Hampton it was nicknamed "Belltown." Bevin Brothers was the last survivor.

The company -- which says on its Web site it made the first bicycle bell as well as bells for Good Humor trucks, Salvation Army bell ringers and sleighs -- employed 19 people at the factory. Another company in the complex employed an additional seven.

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