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Fire at Belfast potato facility ruled accidental

The state fire marshal said Wednesday that the cause will remain undetermined due to the extent of the damage.

BELFAST, Maine — The fire that destroyed the Penobscot-McCrum potato processing facility was ruled accidental, the result of "spontaneous combustion" of leftover food or because of a mechanical error.

The cause of the March 24 fire will remain undetermined because of the extent of the damage, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesperson Shannon Moss said in a release.

The fire started in the area of a fryolator located next to a conveyor belt and spread directly into the exhaust venting system that exited through the roof and into a "void" space between the ceiling and roof, the city of Belfast said in a release. That area was above the fire suppression system, which allowed the fire to spread to many other "void" spaces quickly under the metal roof.

“Given the size of this property, the rapid spread of the fire and imminent threat of hazardous materials, we are so fortunate that all the employees were accounted for early and safe,” Belfast Fire Chief Patrick Richards said in a release. He praised mutual aid departments that assisted.

On Tuesday, city officials met with representatives of the company to discuss plans.

The facility employed 138 people.


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