OLD TOWN, Maine — Falling bricks from the demolition of the former Old Town Canoe factory hit the Old Town Fire Department station early Thursday, smashing two windows and damaging an exterior wall and emergency fire exit.
Vaughn Thibodeau Construction is doing the demolition and debris removal work at the old factory and adjacent buildings, City Manager Bill Mayo said last week. No one was injured as a result of the incident.
Old Town Fire Chief Steve O’Malley said he and other firefighters were outside watching as the demolition on the three-plus story building started, but it was cold and they decided to watch from the warmth of the station’s second-floor windows. It looks directly out onto the former canoe factory building approximately 25 feet away.
“After a couple minutes, we stepped back and lucky we did — it came down and part of it came in through the window,” the fire chief said. “[The falling building] went the opposite way they would have liked it to have gone.”
A few minutes after moving away from the windows, O’Malley heard the noise from the bricks falling and felt the fire station at 150 Brunswick St. shake at about 8:30 a.m.
The fire trucks were removed from the station as a precautionary measure, and the fire chief called in structural engineers from Ames A/E Architects & Engineers, who did recent reconstruction on the station, to check the safety of the building. He also talked to the construction company’s insurance representative, adding there are no cost estimates yet on fixing the damage.
“They do believe there is significant damage to the building, but it’s not structural,” O’Malley said.
Four cracks that start mid-way up and reach to the ceiling could be seen on the inside of the exterior walls of the fire station, debris broke through two windows and fell upon the emergency fire exit from the second floor, where the firefighters reside and bunk while at work.
Messages left for Vaughn Thibodeau Construction were not immediately returned.
“It’s unfortunate it got down to the last wall [before a mishap occurred],” Town Manager Bill Mayo said Thursday afternoon. “Everything was going well, but that’s what insurance is for. We’ll fix it and go forward from there.”
O’Malley said the construction company had a good plan to bring down the building, by pulling it toward the river, but sometimes plans just don’t work out.
“We call it a pancake collapse in the fire service when one floor falls on another,” the fire chief said. “Sometimes they don’t land level. Sometimes they go at an angle.”
“The floors didn’t fall the way they wanted,” O’Malley said later. “Sometimes it doesn’t go according to plans. The biggest thing is no one was hurt, either on the Vaughn Thibodeau side or on our side.”