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Cause of E. Millinocket concrete factory fire undetermined

Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
East Millinocket and Medway firefighters work with a backhoe to save equipment at a fire that destroyed a concrete factory off Route 11 in East Millinocket on Friday, March 16, 2012.
By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — An investigator from the State Fire Marshal’s Office could not determine what started a fire that destroyed a concrete factory on Route 11 last week, officials said Wednesday.

Investigator Stu Jacobs, who visited the site on the day of the fire last Friday and again on Tuesday, found that the damage was severe enough to force him to log the cause of the fire as “undetermined,” said one of his supervisors, Sgt. Ken Grimes of the Maine State Fire Marshal’s Office.

“The fire originated in the main plant building but we can’t get any closer to the exact point of origin than that,” Grimes said. “There is such damage that we can’t say conclusively where or how the fire started.”

Several insurance company representatives and investigators who were there Tuesday agreed with Jacobs’ ruling, Grimes said.

“At this particular point, unless we get any more information, the case will be listed as inactive for us,” Grimes said.

Firefighters had suspected that an operating wood stove or recent electrical work might have ignited the fire at Lee’s Redi Mix Concrete Inc. on Friday morning.

No injuries were reported.

When they first arrived, firefighters saw flames already burning through the roof and one side of the building. The building was filled with thick smoke likely caused by the ignition of portions of a 120-foot-long rubber belt that ran concrete through mixing and preparation machinery, Fire Chief Les Brown has said.

Several large plastic drums inside the plant were also afire.

Investigators found nothing that indicated foul play, Grimes said.

Plant workers and firefighters from East Millinocket and Medway used a backhoe to pry open parts of the building in an attempt to save tools and valuable items within it, including a large generator, office records and machinery, Brown said.

Two large tanks that held chemicals used to make concrete appear to have been salvaged, Brown said.

On Wednesday, Brown said that it appears that most if not all of the equipment used to make concrete seemed salvageable — good news to the decades-old family business.

Follow BDN reporter Nick Sambides Jr. on Twitter at @NickSam2BDN.

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