ETNA, Maine — When firefighters arrived at Watsons Custom Butchering shop early Friday, it was too late to save one building and an oil tank filled with fuel was actively burning and spitting fire at a second building, according to Etna fire Capt. Aaron Brown.
“A 275-gallon oil drum was venting — it was on fire,” the captain said. “It was blowing fire on the other building we wanted to save.”
Firefighters, who arrived about 2:15 a.m., were able to keep the second building, which was filled with farm equipment and grain, cool enough to prevent it from catching fire, Brown said.
“When we got there the [first] building was already gone,” the captain said. “It wasn’t noticed until late. The sides were metal. The roof was metal and it got really, really hot inside before it burned through. It made it really hard to put it out.”
The destroyed building had four or five freezers, a couple of smokers, meat-cutting machines and other supplies for the business.
Owner Andy Watson, who lives in a house on the Carter Road property that was not near the fire, “came out and said, ‘I can’t lose both buildings,’” Brown said.
There was so much damage to the first building that there is no way to determine what caused the fire, Sgt. Tim York of the state fire marshal’s office said Friday.
The oil inside the tank was allowed to burn off, Brown said.
“We let it vent itself out,” the captain said, adding that it could have exploded if pressure had built up. “That is why usually when something is venting we let it vent.”
Local firefighters got help from neighboring Carmel, Dixmont, Newport and Plymouth to extinguish the blaze, Brown said.