Cause of Fort Kent potato shed fire may never be known

Firefighters from several St. John Valley departments were at the scene of a massive fire Thursday night at a potato storage shed on Pump House Road just off U.S. Route 1 east of downtown.
Julia Bayly
Firefighters from several St. John Valley departments were at the scene of a massive fire Thursday night at a potato storage shed on Pump House Road just off U.S. Route 1 east of downtown. Buy Photo
Posted Jan. 25, 2014, at 3:04 p.m.

FORT KENT, Maine — Officials are no closer to determining the cause of a fire that leveled a potato shed this week and say due to the intensity of the blaze, they may never know how it started.

The state fire marshal spent Friday on the scene at the town-owned potato storage shed on Pump House Road, just off U.S. Route 1 east of downtown Fort Kent, according to Fire Chief Ed Endee on Saturday.

A passing motorist reported the fire around 7:30 p.m. Thursday and by the time crews arrived, the building was fully involved, Endee said.

Fort Kent was assisted by firefighting crews from Frenchville, Eagle Lake, North Lakes and Clair, New Brunswick.

They remained on the scene until midnight and returned the next day to address several flare-ups and hot spots.

“The state fire marshal has gone over it,” Endee said. “The cause is still undetermined and because of the extent of the fire, it will most likely stay that way.”

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.

Subzero temperatures presented a challenge in fighting the blaze, Endee said.

“Everything was freezing up on us,” he said. “The hose lines that had flowing water were OK, but everything else just froze.”

Trucks returned to the Fort Kent fire house to thaw out and firefighters had access to a school bus at the scene to warm up throughout the night, Endee said.

 

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