Fire destroys Canaan sawmill

Posted Oct. 07, 2008, at 12:07 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 6:03 a.m.

CANAAN, Maine – For the second time in five years, fire has destroyed the Robert Johnson Sawmill and Firewood Company on Whitten Road in Canaan.

Six fire departments – Canaan, Pittsfield, Clinton, Hartland, St. Albans and Skowhegan – responded to the fire, which was called in about 7 a.m. but the complex of six buildings erupted quickly in flames.

“It was all gone when we got here,” Canaan Fire Chief Ray Small said.

Robert Johnson, who has owned the sawmill for 16 years, said he was not insured. He had reportedly just installed a new system that would cut and split firewood automatically and told firefighters that the fire was spotted moments after he switched on a generator. It is believed that a spark from that switch ignited fuel.

The mill had eight employees, many of them Johnson family members. No one was injured.