May 26, 2018
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Firefighters still battling hot spots, trying to determine cause of warehouse blaze in Fort Kent

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

FORT KENT, Maine — Firefighters on Friday continued to deal with hot spots and flare-ups in the rubble of a potato storage and packing facility destroyed by a massive fire the night before.

Fort Kent Fire Chief Ed Endee said shortly after noon Friday that he was still at the scene with an investigator from the state fire marshal’s office and that they had yet to determine a cause.

The fire at the facility just off U.S. Route 1 began around 7:30 p.m. Thursday and spread quickly throughout the building.

Firefighters from Fort Kent, North Lake, Frenchville, Eagle Lake and Clair, New Brunswick, had to contend with temperatures around minus 6 degrees Fahrenheit and at least one truck had to return to the Fort Kent fire station to thaw its lines.

Town Manager Don Guimond said Friday that the town has owned the warehouse since 1982 but leased it to George Pelletier’s GB and D Farms. It was used to store potatoes and processing equipment.

Guimond said Friday that the building was insured.

Steve Daigle, owner of Steve’s Cycle and Marine, located just across the road from the building, had closed his shop and left for the day around 7:05 p.m.

“I always look around the neighborhood before I leave and I never even smelled one speck of smoke,” he said Friday morning. “Twenty-five minutes later I get a call telling me there is a fire at the packing shed, that’s how quick it went.”

Daigle said he returned to the scene and remained until 11 p.m.

“Everything looked fine when I left,” he said. “There were some ashes but it looked okay.”

Daigle said the crews never had to turn water onto his building, as the fire was not that hot.

Not far away from the small engine shop, Dr. Christiana Yule, owner of the Fort Kent Animal Hospital, said her building also was undamaged by the fire.

“Everything is fine here,” she said Friday morning. “It did smell a little smoky when we came in.”

Yule said the main concern she and her staff had when learning of the fire was to double-check that there were no animals being kept overnight at her clinic.

“We double-checked and had no overnight patients,” she said. “If we had, we would have come right in.”

BDN writer Julia Bayly contributed to this report.

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