PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Firefighters from six communities were on the scene of a major warehouse fire on Rice Street, a side street off this community’s main street, for more than 13 hours this weekend.
The fire destroyed a bag warehouse owned by Northeast Packaging Co., a large, metal facility where paper and plastic bags are stored.
Presque Isle Deputy Fire Chief Rich Wark said that the fire was difficult to fight in that it “had a very large fire load. There were rolls of paper and plastic and barrels of ink and alcohol solvent inside the warehouse.”
Wark said the fire was reported just before 10 p.m. Friday. When firefighters arrived moments later, fire was visible throughout the rear of the building and was starting to burn through the roof.
“We were definitely in defense mode,” Wark said. Firefighters were forced to fight the blaze from outside. Key to the attack was the department’s ladder gun with an elevated stream.
“The barrels with the alcohol were what concerned us the most,” Wark said. By venting the roof and concentrating on those barrels, Wark said the fire was kept away from them.
Wark said the warehouse, which measured 150 feet by 300 feet, was destroyed.
Firefighters were still on the scene at noon Saturday, using an excavator to remove rolls of paper that were on fire. “The metal roof collapsed on top of the rolls, and the excavator is pulling them apart so we can extinguish them,” Wark said.
Two investigators from the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Tim York and Tim Lowell, were at the scene Saturday, attempting to determine the fire’s cause.
Wark said at least 50 firefighters from Caribou, Mapleton, Mars Hill, Presque Isle, and the Aroostook Fire Protection District (Fort Fairfield and Limestone) fought the blaze. There were no injuries.