March 27, 2020
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Fire destroys shellfish processing plant in Machiasport

Courtesy of Dan Bowker
Courtesy of Dan Bowker
Firefighters from five volunteer fire departments could not save this shellfish plant in Machiasport, Superior Shellfish of 61 Kennebec Road.

A shellfish processing plant was destroyed by a fire that firefighters fought in icy conditions in Machiasport on Thursday night. No injuries were reported.

Superior Shellfish, a seafood wholesaler at 61 Kennebec Road, was burning end to end when the first group of what was eventually about 20 volunteer firefighters from five towns arrived at about 6:05 p.m. That was about five minutes after a 911 call reporting the fire came in. Firefighters cleared the scene at about midnight, Machiasport Fire Chief David Nielsen said.

“The building was all flames. Fire was coming out of every side,” Nielsen said Friday. “There really wasn’t much we could do. The building had a metal roof on it and that prevented us from cutting through the roof to get at the fire.”

Owned by Doug and Annie Wood, Superior Shellfish is among a handful of seafood processing plants in Washington County that buys seafood from county fishermen and sells it to area restaurants and supermarkets. The Wood family has operated the business for decades, said Mike Hinerman, a Machiasport selectmen and an assistant fire chief.

“It’s a shame, but we’re very happy it wasn’t a home,” Hinerman said. “It will hurt everybody who was doing business with them. The people will find other buyers and it will make life harder for Doug and Annie long term until they can get back into business.”

The Wood family’s home is on the same property as their business, which was a building about 60 feet long and about 50 feet wide, but weren’t close enough to the plant to be threatened.

Attempts to contact the family were not immediately successful on Friday.

The fire burned hot enough to force two large propane tanks alongside the business to vent flames and the cold — it was about 12 degrees Fahrenheit at the time — iced up the firefighters hoses and tanker-truck outlets. Firefighters were forced to go to a hydrant about three miles away to get water, Nielsen said.

Investigators from the state fire marshal’s office were due to inspect the plant’s remains on Friday to determine what caused the fire, Nielsen said.

 


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