October 23, 2019
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Warehouse fire will delay Belfast smoked salmon company’s $5 million expansion

Courtesy of John Gibbs
Courtesy of John Gibbs
A fire at an expansion site owned by Ducktrap River of Maine, a Belfast seafood products company, caused a setback for the project on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017. The company believes the fire started as a result of the construction work. The expansion could be delayed by about a month, Ducktrap officials say.

BELFAST, Maine — A Belfast seafood products company that was working on an expansion at a vacant warehouse will have to wait a little longer after a fire sparked at the warehouse Thursday morning.

Ducktrap River of Maine, based in the city’s business park, purchased a former apparel manufacturing facility across the street last summer. The company then launched a $5 million push to convert the building to produce cold-smoked salmon.

“It’ll cost a little money and set back our construction process a bit,” Ducktrap General Manager Don Cynewski said Thursday afternoon.

The company hoped to open the facility by mid-May, but that likely will be delayed at least a month.

The fire broke out around 9 a.m. Construction crews working on the warehouse conversion noticed smoke and called emergency crews. Belfast firefighters quickly doused the flames, but heavy smoke also damaged the warehouse and offices inside the building. No one was injured in the fire.

One wall damaged by the flames may need to be replaced.

Cynewski said sparks thrown by welding or metal cutting likely caused the blaze.

“It was pretty dramatic at the peak of the fire, with all that smoke,” Cynewski said.

Ducktrap expects the new facility to handle about 35 percent to 40 percent of the company’s workload, according to Cynewski. The company has been turning away new customers and business because its production could not meet new demand.

The warehouse is the former site of Little River Apparel, which shuttered in 2016, laying off about 70 workers with disabilities. At its height around 2010, about 250 people worked there making 5,000 chemical biological suits each month for the U.S. Department of Defense.

Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.

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