March 21, 2019
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Al’s Bar in Medway damaged in fire caused by cigarette butts in garbage can

MEDWAY, Maine — Discarded cigarette butts appear to have started a fire that badly damaged Al’s Bar & Grill on Route 157 Sunday night, according to Medway Assistant Fire Chief Greg Hale.

Firefighters were called to the scene shortly before 11 p.m. and arrived to find “heavy fire on the northwest corner of the building,” Hale said.

Two teams of Medway firefighters entered the building and “contained the fire to the west end of the building,” according to Hale.

The assistant chief said the state fire marshal’s office investigated the fire Monday morning and found that the fire started in a garbage can in the “beer garden,” an outside area where patrons go to smoke.

Hale said it appears someone disposed of hot cigarette butts or emptied an ashtray into the garbage can, which was set against the wall of the building. The garbage caught fire and the flames eventually spread to the interior of the building where it burned through the wall, according to Hale.

Hale said the manager left after closing at about 10:30 p.m., but “she didn’t see anything or smell anything” that indicated a fire, Hale said.

“It’s bad enough to where they’re going to have to tear it down and rebuild it,” Hale said, adding that some equipment at the east side of the building might be salvageable in spite of smoke and water damage throughout the building. The assistant chief said he didn’t know whether the owners had insurance.

It took about 25 firefighters 45 minutes to knock down the blaze. Fire crews from Mattawamkeag and East Millinocket assisted, Hale said.

The bar’s general manager did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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