A fire destroyed a mechanic’s garage in downtown Fort Fairfield before firefighters contending with subzero temperatures and 10,000 gallons of oil got it under control on Monday.
The fire at Bob’s Service and Repair at 328 Main St. was reported at 3:30 p.m. Sunday and firefighters couldn’t leave until 12 hours later. No one was injured, Fort Fairfield Fire Chief Vince Baldwin said.
“We had controlled the fire within an hour, but it took the total time to extinguish the fire,” Baldwin said Monday.
Firefighters from five area towns stopped the fire after it had spread into a small portion of the elevator shaft of an adjacent three-story apartment building. They then had to sift through the remains of the garage, dousing hot spots and ensuring that the oil remained contained.
The cold, which ranged from a few degrees above zero to -13 degrees Fahrenheit, created large patches of ice and ice dams, froze fire nozzles and jammed hoses with ice, Baldwin said.
“The entire area quickly becomes an ice skating rink once you start applying water,” he said.
Firefighters determined that the fire started in a waste-oil furnace. Service station owner Robert Kilcollins had shut down the boiler because it wasn’t working, but its ignition system malfunctioned, Baldwin said.
The building contained 9,000 gallons of waste oil and 900 gallons of heating oil. Other toxins include acetylene torches, paint cans and about 300 tires, Baldwin said.
Rounds of ammunition from several weapons stored on the property also cooked off, Baldwin said.
Caribou, Easton, Fort Fairfield, Limestone and Presque Isle firefighters assisted, as did Crown Ambulance, Baldwin said.