PATTEN, Maine — Investigators were digging through the rubble at the former Patten Primary School on Main Street on Friday, trying to determine what sparked a blaze that destroyed the 104-year-old building Thursday.
Sgt. Tim York of the State Fire Marshal’s Office said that he and two other investigators were at the fire scene Friday, but he was not sure a cause of the fire would be found because of the extensive damage to the building.
“I would be very surprised if we determine a cause, but we haven’t given up hope yet,” he said Friday afternoon.
Built in 1905, the five-room kindergarten through grade two school was sold to a town family for $50,000 in 2000. The building was converted into a home and was owned by Richard Will, who lived there with his wife and five children.
Seven fire departments went to the scene to help extinguish the blaze.
High winds, extremely combustible materials, icy and snowy conditions, and concerns about hazardous material combined to keep firefighters at the scene for the entire day.
Patten Fire Chief John Roy said the combustible materials were methanol and vegetable oil, which were part of a biofuel operation in the building’s basement. He said state Department of Environmental Protection officials had arrived to remove the materials.