A Mechanic Falls fire that created towers of billowing black smoke visible for miles may continue to smolder for days, fire officials told CBS 13.
The old mill building was reportedly home to three apartments and two businesses. No injuries were reported as a result of the blaze, which started around 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
By Monday, about 20 firefighters from six towns remained on scene, down from more than 100 from 24 towns the night before, Town Manager Zakk Maher told CBS 13.
He told the station that crews doused the blaze with 486,000 gallons of water “out of our [town] system alone,” not counting the water brought in from other towns, or piped up from the nearby river.
Smoke continued to twist into the sky from the debris Monday, indicating hot spots that still must be put out.
“We’ve pulled in excavators from Lewiston, Auburn and a couple of other areas to start turning the rubble to get at the inside of the building,” Maher said.
“We will have people here monitoring it 24 hours a day for at least a couple of days until it’s fully extinguished,” said Deputy Chief Tom Doherty of the Mechanic Falls Fire Department.
Representatives of the Maine State Fire Marshal’s Office told CBS 13 they expect to be on site for several days, and won’t be able to conduct much of their investigation until the fire is completely extinguished. The television station reported that state investigators has brought drones to the scene to fly overhead to map the site and assess damage.
During the height of the blaze Sunday, residents told CBS 13 they were awestruck by the magnitude.
Onlooker Janet Mitchell said she saw “flames … just billowing out the windows” and part of the building collapse, calling the sight both “amazing” and “pretty scary.”
Resident Robin Deatrich said she’s “never seen something burn like this before.”
Local stores and volunteers have opened the nearby American Legion Post 150 and stocked it with food and water for firefighters. Volunteer Penny Friree told CBS 13 they’ll help out “as long as we have to.”
“It’s been very hard, but we all came together,” she said.
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