Randolph business leveled by fire

Posted March 26, 2014, at 2:14 p.m.

RANDOLPH, Maine — A business that has been a staple of this small Kennebec County town for decades was leveled by fire Wednesday morning, according to officials.

Webb’s Sonoco, where locals typically gather for morning coffee, was gutted in a fire that was reported shortly after 3 a.m., according to Randolph Fire Chief Ron Cunningham.

Initial reports indicated smoke was coming out of vents, but Cunningham said when firefighters arrived heavy smoke was pouring out of the Route 27 establishment, which the chief said had been in business for “about 50-60 years.”

But after making a trip around the building, Cunningham’s concerns immediately shifted.

“The first thing I noticed were three 150-pound propane tanks and flames in one of the back windows,” Cunningham said.

The business’ owner arrived on scene shortly after firefighters arrived, and told crews 100 gallons of auto racing fuel was also inside the building.

“That made us change our plan,” said Cunningham, noting firefighters from Randolph, Gardiner, Farmingdale and Pittson had to attack the structure from the outside.

Crews managed to keep the propane tanks cool but the racing fuel caught fire, Cunningham said. No explosions occurred.

“It just intensified the fire greatly,” said Cunningham.

It took firefighters nearly four hours to get the blaze under control, the chief said. The store owner was insured.

The state fire marshal’s office is conducting an investigation, although Cunningham doesn’t consider the fire to be suspicious.

No firefighters were injured.

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