June 22, 2018
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Rockland lobster warehouse to be rebuilt after five-alarm fire

By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — Linda Bean picked her way Tuesday afternoon through the charred wreckage of her lobster storage facility that burned in a five-alarm fire over the weekend in the Rockland Industrial Park.

Nine thousand pounds of live lobsters died in the blaze.

“It’s pretty bad,” she said, gesturing at the melted walls and watching as workers used heavy equipment to lift crates of dead lobsters out of the tank. “It was a real disaster.”

Despite the loss of lobsters and the damage to the warehouse, Bean said business would continue with no delays or lasting harm. She also said she would repair or rebuild the warehouse.

The Sunday afternoon fire was caused by an electrical problem and was deemed to be an accident by investigators from the Maine State Fire Marshal’s Office, said Rockland Fire Chief Charles Jordan Jr.

More than 50 firefighters battled the flames, which fed on lobster traps and other items stored inside the metal warehouse, Jordan said.

One firefighter, Tony Leo of Thomaston, suffered heat exhaustion but had no lasting ill effects, the fire chief said.

The entrepreneur behind various enterprises under the umbrella of Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine, Bean said the warehouse that burned was used mostly to store and grade lobsters, although some office and sales work also was done there. That business — Amalgamated Enterprises LLC — employed five people and has been ship-ping up to 9,000 pounds of lobsters a day to locations all over the country during the late summer and fall busy season, she said.

“It’s the big part of the year,” she said. “It’s hard to take the fire right now, but [company manager John Petersdorf] is really resourceful.”

For the moment, storage, shipping and sales have been moved to a cove in Port Clyde, where Bean’s company has its headquarters.

“Nobody got hurt, and nobody lost their job,” she said.

Bean said she intends to repair or rebuild the warehouse and was waiting to hear back from her insurance company on whether it would declare the building a total loss.

According to Jordan, investigators were able to determine quickly that it was caused by an accidental electrical malfunction, thanks to video security footage that was not destroyed in the fire.

Bean said she had been serving lobster rolls at the Windsor Fair when she heard the warehouse was on fire.

“I was able to rush back. By the time I got here, there was smoke coming out of every window,” she said.

One early concern was the fact that the dead lobsters already had been purchased by buyers. Bean and others scrambled and found enough lobsters coming in to replace them.

“With those two days being good fishing days, we had enough, and more than enough,” Bean said.

The fire did not affect business at her new lobster processing plant, which also is located in the industrial park.

“That’s operating full-bore,” Bean said.

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