STEUBEN,. Maine — An explosion followed by a fast-moving fire Monday morning destroyed one of the major buildings at the RP Boat Shop on Route 1.
Business owner Richard E. Pinkham said he and co-owner Eugene Robinson, along with another worker, were in a second building when they heard the explosion.
“I have no idea what could have caused it,” Pinkham said Monday afternoon. “It was just all on fire and it was gone in 10 or 15 minutes, although it seemed like it was in an instant.”
No one was in the building at the time and no one was injured.
“But if anyone had been in that building, they surely would have been killed,” Pinkham said.
Pinkham said the building housed all of the boat company’s molds, which are used to pour the fiberglass hulls in boat building.
“We lost all the molds. We’ve been here 19 years,” Pinkham said. He said he was still checking to see whether that particular building was insured. He could not provide an estimate of the value of the molds.
Pinkham said he and the other two workers for the company would continue to repair boats in another building on the property. He praised the work of firefighters.
“They were outstanding,” he said. “I can’t say enough good about them. It was the best response I’ve ever seen.”
The fire was reported just before 9 a.m., and about 50 firefighters from Steuben, Milbridge, Cherryfield, Harrington and Gouldsboro responded.
Steuben Fire Chief Adelbert Pinkham, who is not related to the business owner, said there wasn’t enough left of the building to determine a fire cause.
Adelbert Pinkham said he lives next door to the boatyard and when he heard the emergency tones sound on his fire department pager, he looked out the window.
“All I could see was flames,” he said. “We were lucky to save the other building, where they were actually working on the boats.”
The fire chief said the molds, which are made of Fiberglas, emit toxic fumes when burning. This required everyone at the scene to wear self-contained breathing devices.
“It made for a tough morning,” the chief said.
Pinkham said he found nothing suspicious about the blaze and did not call the State Fire Marshal’s Office for a more complete investigation.
“There is nothing there to see,” he said. “The building was burned flat.”