KNOX, Maine — A malfunctioning electrical panel was to blame for a fire that destroyed a storage building Saturday afternoon, according to Thorndike Fire Chief Peter Quimby.

Firefighters from Thorndike, Unity, Brooks and Freedom were able to stop the fire from spreading to an adjacent apartment and barn complex, but the storage building at 1096 Dolloff Road in Knox, which is located on the Knox-Thorndike town line, was a total loss.

Eric Bryant said he and someone else were standing outside the building when they heard cracking noises. When they saw flames near an electrical panel they grabbed fire extinguishers and hooked up a hose. They couldn’t extinguish the blaze so they called 911.

Quimby said the firefighters on the first trucks to arrive at the scene around 3 p.m. found the interior of the building full of flames. The building contained a bucket truck, a boat, two personal watercraft, a riding lawn mower, an all-terrain vehicle and other equipment, according to Bryant, who owns the building. Nothing was in-sured, he said, estimating that his losses totaled more than $30,000 not counting the building.

The mostly steel building was constructed in the early 1960s by Joseph Bryant, who for years ran a steel fabricating shop there. Among his products were Bryant sanders. Joseph Bryant, who resides in Florida, was saddened by news of the fire, his grandson said.

“The first thing he asked was ‘Where’s the Chevy pickup?’” Eric Bryant said. “I’m restoring a 1926 Chevy pickup for him.” The pickup, which was located in a nearby barn, was not damaged in the blaze.

The burned building also housed some old metal-working machines, which Bryant said were rugged enough to survive the fire, except for maybe some of their electric motors.

Quimby said firefighters had plenty of water to fight the blaze, but at times were worried about chemicals from the machinery. Absorption pads were spread along the ground near the fire scene, but the chemicals didn’t end up posing a major problem, Quimby said.

“This was a good save,” said the chief, who noted that firefighters were able to stop the fire from spreading to an adjacent apartment and barn. Quimby said he found nothing suspicious about the fire.

Bryant chalked it up to simple bad luck.

“It’s not a good day, but it could’ve been worse,” he said.


Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.