Slaughterhouse fire started by lightning

Posted July 08, 2009, at 10:40 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:16 p.m.

MEDWAY, Maine — A lightning strike on June 26 is believed to have caused a fire that did slight damage to an attic at a slaughterhouse on Pattagumpus Road on Wednesday, firefighters said.

The attic in the main building at York’s Slaughterhouse and Meat Market at 543 Pattagumpus Road had three or four charred timbers and sills and heavy wiring damage from the fire, which was reported shortly before 10 a.m., building owner Galen York said.

The absence of other ignition points, the smoke that York and other building workers saw several hours before the fire was reported, and the lightning strike itself had firefighters and an electrician called to the scene speculating that the strike caused the blaze, York said.

“I don’t know. They don’t know. They don’t even know if that was the case,” York said Wednesday.

“They are thinking it was the case because the wires they found were pitted,” he said. “The wires that were in the attic had been smoldering for a while and copper in the wires was pitted so the electrician thought it was the lightning. Whatever it was had to get pretty hot to pit the copper like that.”

The building first got foggy with smoke at about 8:30 a.m., when York called in the electrician. The electrician arrived at about 9 a.m. and found nothing wrong with the wiring, and by then, the smoke had cleared, York said.

York called firefighters when the smoke flared up again about 30 minutes later, he said.

Medway and East Millinocket firefighters were at the scene for almost three hours, as the fire was difficult to find and douse, firefighters said. Firefighters had to cut a small hole in the roof to ventilate the smoke.

An unidentified firefighter suffered smoke inhalation and was treated and then released from a local hospital, firefighters said.

The lightning strike did considerably more damage, York said, knocking out his television, computer, printer and three-phase power system.

In business since 1976, the slaughterhouse sells fresh steak and pork, plus a full range of game meat, including bear, deer and moose, York said.

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