June 19, 2019

Explosion at Brooksville dairy injures worker

BROOKSVILLE – An explosion and flash fire injured a farm worker Wednesday morning at Sunset Acres Farm on Bagaduce Road.

The explosion blew out the front door of the dairy area of the barn where at least one person was working at about 10:10 a.m. Wednesday, according to Brooksville Fire Chief Bill Leck.

“It was a pretty forceful explosion,” Leck said.

According to Leck, another intern at the farm saw the door blow open and a flash of fire. Bob Bowen, owner of the farm, said the woman, Carol Castleberry, 24, an intern from Virginia who has been working on the farm, came running out the door screaming.

Leck said that Castleberry had burns on her face and arms. She was taken to Blue Hill Memorial Hospital and was transferred to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. From there she was transferred to an undisclosed facility. There was no word on her condition late Wednesday.

Leck said he was unsure what had caused the explosion, which reportedly ripped through 40 feet of the barn before it pushed the door casing partially out of the wall of the barn.

“It was a flash fire,” Leck said. “There was the explosion of some sort. Then there was a flash and it went out.”

Firefighters spent much of the morning searching the scene for a cause and checking the barn for hot spots. An inspector from the State Fire Marshal’s Office was expected to examine the scene Wednesday afternoon in an effort to determine the cause.

There was significant heat damage to the dairy portion of the farm, the area where the farm’s dairy goats are milked and where cheese is made. It is possible that a problem with the heating system or the processing equipment in the area may have caused the explosion, Leck said, but he would not speculate until the state inspector had investigated the scene.

Firefighters shut off at least two propane tanks at the site, but, again, there was no indication whether they were a factor in the explosion.

The explosion damaged equipment and some cheese that was being stored in the area and sent smoke throughout the rest of the building. After checking to make sure there was no active flame, Bowen said he went into the building and opened windows. Firefighters also opened doors and windows in the rest of the barn to vent the building.

Bowen estimated the damage at several thousand dollars.

Although the building is insured, Bowen was concerned about finding equipment immediately to keep the farm running. The farm’s dairy goats had been milked Wednesday morning when the explosion occurred, but would need to be milked again that night. He also needed a bulk tank in which to store the milk.

Bowen said he hoped they would be back in business by this morning.

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