February 25, 2020
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It’s unclear if Bradbury Barrel will rebuild after fire destroyed building

David Marino Jr. | Presque Isle Star-Herald
David Marino Jr. | Presque Isle Star-Herald
Remains of the The Bradbury Barrel Co. in Bridgewater on Jan. 14, a day after a fire burned down most of the manufacturing plant.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — More than a week after a fire burned down The Bradbury Barrel Co.’s primary manufacturing building in Bridgewater, there is no confirmation the company will rebuild the site, and the Maine Department of Labor has reached out to help affected employees.

Bridgewater Town Manager Jill Rusby said the business is currently working to fill all orders it received before the fire. Rusby was unsure where it is manufacturing the goods for these orders, and said she had not received “any confirmation” that Bradbury Barrel had any plans to rebuild the burned facility.

Rusby said the Bridgewater community had been incredibly supportive of the business in the aftermath of the fire, with many offering to help in any way they can. She said local farmers assisted with efforts to salvage several pieces of equipment from the wreckage.

Jessica Picard, communications manager at the Maine Department of Labor, said the department reached out to Bradbury Barrel on Wednesday to offer Rapid Response services to employees affected by the fire.

Picard said the Rapid Response program helps workers find jobs after closures and downsizings, along with assisting in health insurance and unemployment benefit matters. While she said this often involves a Department of Labor team traveling to the place of employment to support workers, they also perform assistance remotely.

She said a representative of Bradbury Barrel told the department that no one employed at the facility at the time of the fire is currently unemployed.

In an interview shortly after the building burned down, Bridgewater fire Chief Troy Bradstreet said that while the owner, Wayne Bradbury, had insurance on the facility, much of the equipment Bradbury Barrel used there was antique, and likely no longer produced.

Rusby, who saw the flames as she was driving by, reported the Station Street fire to authorities around 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 13. Approximately 35 firefighters from Bridgewater and neighboring communities fought the flames for seven hours.

Despite firefighters’ efforts, the facility was a total loss apart from a quonset structure attached to the main building. Bradstreet said the failure of a loader’s electrical system on the site likely started the fire.

Bradbury Barrel specializes in manufacturing wood display systems, along with potato barrels and baskets.

The company’s owner, Bradbury, and other representatives of Bradbury Barrel did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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