LIBERTY, Maine — Fire ripped through the Liberty Trading Post on Sunday night, all but leveling the popular convenience store.
Liberty Fire Department Capt. Justin LaForge said trading post owner Bob Anderson was in his apartment above the store when the fire broke out, and he escaped through a window. Anderson was uninjured.
LaForge said it appeared the fire started in the left front of the store and spread quickly throughout the entire building. The heat warped a steel I-beam that supported the roof, he said.
Ten area fire departments went to the scene. State Fire Marshal’s Office investigators were also called to the scene to determine the cause of the fire.
The fire was reported at 9:45 p.m. and the flames were extinguished by 1 a.m. Monday. Firefighters continued to deal with hot spots into the morning.
“By daylight we pretty much lost all traces of smoke,” LaForge said Monday.
The Fire Department is about three miles from the Shermans Corner fire scene, and firefighters arrived there within five minutes of the alarm. LaForge said the smoke was venting from the building when the first crews arrived, but flames began shooting through the windows and roof a short time later.
“Within a few minutes it went from smoke showing to a fully engulfed building,” he said. “It pretty much vented itself through the windows and the roof wasn’t far behind. It was really a fast-moving fire.”
Water to fight the fire was obtained by running a hose 2,400 feet to nearby Lake St. George. Tanker trucks filled up at the boat ramp at Lake St. George State Park. Traffic on Route 3 was shut down from the Route 220 intersection to Back Palermo Road.
The store was the town’s only gas station. Residents will have to travel to Belmont or Palermo to fill up their tanks.
Along with Liberty, firefighters and equipment from Montville, Freedom, Thorndike, Morrill, Belmont, Searsmont, Washington and Palermo helped fight the fire. Tanker trucks from China and Weeks Mills were also put into service.