May 27, 2018
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ReEnergy plant in Fort Fairfield shut down after lightning causes fire

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — An energy plant in the community will be closed for at least a week after a fire did significant damage to the facility.

Fort Fairfield firefighters spent six hours on the scene of the fire at ReEnergy in Fort Fairfield on Monday, after lightning struck the facility and set it ablaze.

“They are going to be shut down for a week, at least,” Lt. Jesse Bell of the Fort Fairfield Fire Department said Tuesday. “There is no dollar amount yet on the damage, but it knocked out the main electricity and some computer systems and also the sprinkler system, which was the main reason the fire got so bad.”

Company officials could not be reached Tuesday, so it could not be determined how many employees were affected by the shut down.

The blaze began Monday morning at the Cheney Grove Road plant.

Bell said that on arrival, firefighters discovered lightning had struck the building causing a fire on the eighth floor’s wood chip conveyor belt and hopper. The lightning strike also knocked out the fire suppression systems and electricity. Crews faced intense heat and difficult access. The fire spread up into the walls and to the roof.

“It was very difficult,” said Bell.

The Fort Fairfield Fire Department received mutual aid from departments in Limestone, Loring, Caribou, Presque Isle, Easton, Van Buren and Perth-Andover, Canada. Crown Ambulance assisted with rehabilitation of fatigued firefighters.

There were no firefighter or civilian injuries, Bell said.

ReEnergy uses biomass as its primary fuel to produce approximately 260,000 MW of electricity each year, enough to supply nearly 32,000 homes. The 36 MW facility, which opened in 1987, was acquired by ReEnergy in December 2011.

ReEnergy was insured, according to Bell.

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