ST. AGATHA, Maine — The state fire marshall is on the scene in St. Agatha to determine the cause of an early morning fire that destroyed the R.F. Chamberland, Inc. garage and workshop.

The fire broke out in the 20,000-square-foot structure just before 2 a.m., according to St. Agatha Fire Chief Bob Guerette. When crews arrived, they found the structure totally engulfed and turned their attention to saving the business’s nearby office building.

“Three quarters of the roof was down when we arrived,” Guerette said at the scene Saturday morning. “So all we did was focus on saving the office.”

The two-story office, which houses the business headquarters for the on-road trucking transportation company, sustained some external heat and smoke damage but was saved.

“At one point, the wind picked up and the flames were just rolling and pushing fire toward the office,” Guerette said. “The fact that it has a metal roof certainly helped.”

Second-generation business owner Dale Chamberland, who lives next door to the garage, said he was woken at around 2 a.m. by a passer-by who spotted the fire.

“It was burning pretty well at that point,” Chamberland said. “There was 40 years worth of tools and collecting things inside there.”

The building also housed 10 tractor-trailer trucks and a box truck, which were destroyed by the blaze, Chamberland said.

The building and its contents were insured, and there were no injuries reported.

For the time being, Chamberland said they hope to convert a nearby truck washing bay into a temporary workshop.

“Because they were able to save the office, we are still in business,” he said.

The company employs between 80 and 85 people. Co-owner Nicole Chamberland did not know Saturday whether or how many workers would be affected by the fire.

Temperatures early Saturday morning were well below freezing, and Guerette said they approached zero with the wind chill.

“We had some pumps start to freeze up toward the end, but that was about it,” he said. “The guys were able to keep warm.”

Forty-five firefigthers responded to the blaze, Guerette said. St. Agatha was assisted by the Frenchville Volunteer Fire Department and North Lakes Fire and Rescue.

Sgt. Tim York of the Maine State Fire Marshal’s Office was on the scene Saturday morning, with senior investigator Tim Lowell, and had no comment regarding the possible cause of the fire.

This was York’s third trip to Aroostook County this week, following two fatal fires. One fire claimed the life of a St. Francis man on Wednesday, and another killed a mother and her three children in Caribou on Thursday.

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Julia Bayly

Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.