June 21, 2018
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Owners, investigators sift through rubble of Sedgwick fire

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff

SEDGWICK, Maine — A few items have been salvaged from the charred pile of a fire that destroyed a large storage rental unit building last weekend, but an official cause of the blaze has not been determined, according to officials.

The large building consisted of dozens of rental storage units, some of them with cars in them, which were all damaged or destroyed when fire broke out at Sedgwick Storage on Route 172 around 3 p.m. Saturday, June 1. The fire drew roughly 60 firefighters from around a dozen area towns and smoldered into Sunday before it was fully extinguished.

Paul Trowbridge, manager and part owner of the business, said Thursday that investigators from the state fire marshal’s office had been at the scene on Monday to try and determine how it started. The wooden building, which had been built in phases over the years, was about 100 feet long and 150 feet wide, he said.

Eddie Naumann, who owns and operates a car repair business on the same property, speculated on the day of the fire that it may have been caused by a possible spark ignited when he and others unsuccessfully tried to start a car that had been stored all winter in one of the rental units. No one saw any spark, Naumann said on Saturday, but the fire was noticed a few minutes later next to where the car was still parked.

Sgt. Tim York of the state fire marshal’s office said Friday that the official cause of the fire is expected to remain unknown. He said the office considered the case to be closed.

“Due to the extent of the damage, the cause is undetermined,” York said.

Trowbridge said that his insurance company plans to erect a fence around the site in the next few days to help control access to the fire scene. He said his policy covers only the loss of the building, not any of the items stored inside by customers. He said some people who lost their belongings may be able to recoup some of their losses through their own homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies.

He said he and his staff have been on site 24 hours a day since the fire to keep an eye on the building site and to assist customers who have come to inquire about their things. Some customers have found salvageable items such as photo albums in the pile of charred rubble, he said.

“The majority of it is ashes,” Trowbridge said of the building contents.

He said one car — he’s not sure what kind — that was in storage has been saved from the fire scene. Among the other dozen or so vehicles that were destroyed was a 1970s pickup that he said was in “perfect shape.”

Knowing that no one was injured in the large fire, he added, “makes it a little bit easier.”

Trowbridge, who earlier this week released a statement on the fire, said he has called or left messages for all 60-plus customers who had items in the building. He said some customers have been elated to find some intact items in the rubble, and others have been too upset to talk.

“It’s a huge range of emotions. It’s all over the map,” Trowbridge said. “We feel bad for them. It’s a very difficult time for all of us.”

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