Suspicious fire under investigation

RHINECLIFF – A maintenance building on the former Holy Cross Pius XII campus in Rhinecliff was leveled by fire at midnight Tuesday morning and authorities said it was suspicious in nature.

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RHINECLIFF — The former Holy Cross Pius XII Campus building caught fire in the early morning hours on Tuesday, burning the structure down to its foundation.

A State Police press release called the fire “suspicious,” as power has not been supplied to the abandoned campus for some years.

When Rhinecliff fire fighters arrived on the scene, a steel gate blocked the way to the building. Fire fighters were forced to cut the gate with power tools in order to gain entry to the property, but not in time to save the burning building.

The 126-acre property has been a source of contention in recent years, with neighbors complaining that the building contained asbestos, posing a danger to the health of nearby residents.  The Dutchess County Cause and Origin Team is continuing to to conduct an investigation into the cause of the fire.  The Rhinecliff Fire Department was assisted by the Hillside, Rhinebeck and Red Hook Fire Departments in battling the blaze.