GREENVILLE — Fire fanned by a heavy wind destroyed Eagle Lumber Co. in Greenville Thursday evening.
There were some anxious moments during the fire because the Charles A. Dean Hospital is close to the sawmill. Fire Chief Mike Anderson said the walls of the hospital and adjacent nursing home, and a wooded area behind the mill, were doused with water during the fire.
At least three explosions caused by the fire rocked the community at about 6:30 p.m. The explosions caused shrapnel to fly through the air, but miraculously no one was injured, Anderson said.
The cause of the fire is unknown, according to Anderson, who said the state Fire Marshal’s Office would investigate. Sangerville, Shirley and Monson firefighters and representatives of the Maine Forest Service assisted at the scene, Anderson said. Guilford firefighters remained on standby at the Monson Fire Station.
Greg Aucoin, manager of the sawmill, said the operation had been closed down for the evening. He believed the fire started in a conveyer where lumber is sorted.
Aucoin believed the insurance on the business, which primarily made hardwood squares used in furniture making and railroad ties, would not nearly cover the cost to rebuild, which he estimated could be as much as $3 million.
Shaking in the cold wind as she surveyed the damage, Celeste Breton, owner of the business, said she returned to Greenville from a trip to Dover-Foxcroft to find the street blocked off by police and fire vehicles. She asked what was happening and they told her the mill was in flames.
Things were on a roll for the business, according to Aucoin, who said employees started working Thursday to fulfill a contract to saw 12 million board feet of pine a year for a Canadian firm.
Aucoin operated a sawmill at the site for years until he suspended its operation in 1990. Breton, his mother-in-law, then took over its ownership by pledging her home as security to enable the mill to get a loan from Border Trust Co. She also received a $100,000 loan from Greenville that was obtained through a federal Community Development Block Grant.