LINCOLN, Maine — As investigators determined they would never know what started the fire that destroyed the Lincoln News presses last week, the weekly newspaper published an edition about a day late Thursday but still on time enough to leave its employees savoring their victory.
Chris DeBeck — a sports reporter and editor, news reporter and paper deliveryman — was on his rounds at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday, dropping off papers a day later than normal at Katahdin and Lincoln Lakes region newsstands.
Copies of the 6,300-circulation weekly normally mailed Wednesday and delivered by letter carriers on Thursday should be in mailboxes today.
“It feels great,” DeBeck said Thursday as he delivered 50 copies to Doc’s Place, a service station at 136 Main St. “It’s nice to see the finished product. It seemed like at times that we had to move heaven and earth, but we persevered.”
As DeBeck hit stores along Main Street and West Broadway, office manager Laverne Carll was selling copies to readers who flocked into the News’ temporary office, the former Lincoln Historical Society offices at 70 West Broadway.
Reggie Hustus, who usually ran the presses at the destroyed Lincoln News Print Services building at 78 West Broadway, was pressed into service delivering papers Thursday, as presses at the Ellsworth American were used, Carll said.
The biggest headline? “Fire Destroys Lincoln News,” of course.
“I am happy to see it out,” said Doug Bean, a clerk at Doc’s Place, “and I have got to commend them for getting it out. I can understand the effort it took to do it.”
Reported at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 4, the fire appeared to have started in the rear of the building, near the newspaper’s presses, and swept rapidly forward to the building’s roof peak and front office before firefighters from four towns could knock it down.
Carll and DeBeck, the last people to leave the building at about 5:25 p.m., told investigators that they saw nothing suspicious. No one was in the building when the fire was reported or hurt fighting the flames. The building is insured.
Investigators will log the fire’s cause as undetermined, said Sgt. Tim York of the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
“The extent of the damage has left us unable to determine what caused the fire, or where it started,” York said Thursday.
Demolition of the burned building’s remains should occur as soon as insurance adjusters finish their work, DeBeck said. A backhoe and other equipment have been on-site since Nov. 5.
In the Nov. 12 edition, Editor and Publisher Kevin Tenggren thanked firefighters for their efforts and readers for their sympathy and concerns.
The News building will be rebuilt, he said, and the newspaper likely will continue to be delivered to subscribers on Friday. No cost estimates for rebuilding have yet been released.
BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY NICK SAMBIDES JR.
Lincoln News office manager Laverne Carll counts out change for newspaper deliveryman Reggie Hustus at the Lincoln News’ temporary offices Thursday.