Fire damages pellet equipment in Corinth

Posted Aug. 04, 2009, at 11:57 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:14 p.m.

CORINTH, Maine — A fire Monday night at a wood pellet manufacturing facility damaged a piece of production line equipment but was stopped by fire crews before it could damage the building housing it.

Because the fire at Corinth Wood Pellets LLC began during a planned maintenance shutdown, no one was at the plant at the time, Corinth Fire Chief Scott Bragdon said Tuesday. He said firefighters were alerted to the fire about 7 p.m. by means of an automatic alarm system.

About 75 firefighters from Corinth, Bradford, Charleston, Garland, Glenburn, Hudson, Kenduskeag and Levant responded to the alarm, he said. Some crews remained at the plant watching for hot spots until about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. After they left, two plant employees were placed on fire watch.

Bragdon said the fire affected a piece of pellet-making equipment called a cooling tower. The cooling tower, he said, is the next-to-last piece of equipment in one of the company’s production lines before pellets are bagged.

He said none of the equipment making up the company’s second production line was affected, so the plant should be able to start back up as scheduled later this week.

Though he did not have a dollar figure on Tuesday, Bragdon said the burned equipment likely was worth thousands of dollars. He said he planned to meet with the pellet manufacturer’s insurer today.

Attempts Tuesday to reach the plant’s managing director, George Soffron, were not successful.

Corinth Wood Pellet LLC makes hardwood and softwood pellets for home heating furnaces, according to its Web site, and Monday’s fire was one of several that have occurred at the Corinth plant since it opened in March 2007.

The worst occurred in May of last year, when a fire began in one of the exterior burners and was sucked inside the building by a fan. Dust and insulation inside ignited, making the fire a tough one to fight. The fire caused an estimated $45,000 in damage and shut the plant down for two days, according to published reports.

Less than a month later, in June, another fire broke out, though it resulted in no apparent damage. In addition, a fire in a sawdust dryer last August shut the plant down, but only for a few hours.

dgagnon@bangordailynews.net

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