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Jay mill explosion affecting logging community as they wait for answers

Many people in the community are waiting to see what's next for the Androscoggin Mill after last week's explosion.

JAY, Maine — As officials continue to investigate the cause of the Androscoggin Mill explosion in Jay, many members of the community are waiting to find out the fate of the mill.

When asked what the mill means to the community, Justin Brooks said, "it's everything."

Brooks owns Brooks Tree and Lawn Care in Wilton and his company brings logs and pulp to the mill. He said he's not the only one who will be affected if the mill doesn't reopen.

"If you just stand on route two or four in Wilton you see all the logging trucks heading towards Jay," Brooks said. "I mean it's just gonna flow downhill so bad it's just gonna affect everybody. Like probably I'd say 70% of my friends either drive truck or cut wood or work in the mill. I mean it's a small community. It's definitely going to hurt everybody that's involved," he added.

The paper mill industry in Maine is long-standing but has changed a lot over the years.

Including Jay, there are now seven paper mills in the state. But five others are being repurposed, limiting the options for the state's loggers.

RELATED: Expert says chemicals released by Jay explosion likely won't hurt humans

RELATED: It's still unclear what made digesters explode at the Androscoggin Mill

Senate President Troy Jackson is a fifth-generation logger himself.

He says the mill explosion "has the effect of the entire logging industry up and down the state of Maine because there's all that less demand that's now needed for whatever time it takes to rebuild."

The State Fire Marshall's office has not yet released a cause for last week's explosion. Maine Public Safety Spokesperson Steve McCausland tells NEWS CENTER Maine that officials haven't seen an explosion like this in decades.

As for the greater Jay community, Brooks says they've been through a lot with the Farmington explosion a few months ago just 14 miles up the road.

"A lot of stuff's happening up here and it's not necessarily for the good but we've got a strong community everybody's coming together everybody helps everybody up here. It's a big family," Brooks said.

A big family indeed. A 2017 study showed logging and trucking industries provide 9,000 full and part-time jobs in Maine.  

RELATED: Androscoggin Mill faces an uncertain future following explosion

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RELATED: No injuries following massive explosion at mill in Jay, Maine

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