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Employee charged with arson in Aldora blaze

By Walter Geiger A 42-year-old Barnesville woman has been charged with first degree arson after allegedly setting an intentional fire in an effort to burn down Aldora Mills here. Telisa LaShawn Virden reportedly set fire to a rag and placed it above a suspended ceiling tile in a women’s restroom at the tire cord plant Sunday, June 22. The fire department was called to the sprawling mill complex at about 8:25 p.m., according to Capt. Todd Pippin of the Lamar sheriff’s office. ”It was shift change at the mill when the fire department got the call. They quickly suspected arson. Our investigation turned up leads that generated her as a suspect,” Pippin said. He declined to comment further, noting the arson was still under investigation. Virden was arrested on Thursday. Several fellow employees reported she was at work when investigators arrived at the mill and took her away in handcuffs. The fire was quickly extinguished and no major damage to the mill was incurred. Virden remained a prisoner at the Lamar County jail at presstime Monday. Aldora celebrated its 125th anniversary on Oct. 15, 2013. It opened in 1888 as a cotton mill and began producing tire cord in the early 1920s. The plant, now owned by Continental AG, produces about 36 million pounds of tire cord fabric per year.

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