LIBERTY, Maine — Firefighters spent seven hours dousing a blaze that set off a series of explosions and leveled a business Sunday night.
Crews were called to a fire at a Route 3 building leased by Affordable Towing and Marine Transport about 7:20 p.m. Sunday. The facility used to house Magnum Manufacturing, which made racks and rails for trucks.
Firefighters battling the blaze heard repeated loud bangs inside, likely caused by exploding acetylene tanks. At other times they heard popping noises, possibly caused by rounds of ammunition inside the building.
“I remember at least five or six explosions,” Liberty Fire Chief Bill Gillespie said Monday afternoon.
Several vehicles inside the garage also were destroyed. Crews managed to prevent further damage by dousing a pair of fuel tanks behind the building to keep them cool, reducing the risk of explosion.
Route 3 was closed for several hours while crews worked.
One man who was at the business at the time of the fire suffered burns to his hands and was taken to Waldo County General Hospital for treatment, Gillespie said.
The man’s name wasn’t immediately available, and Gillespie said he didn’t know how the man was burned. The state fire marshal’s office visited the scene Monday to try to determine the cause of the fire.
Crews also had to contend with ice.
Firefighters had to break through the ice at Lake Saint George so tanker trucks could get to the water and take it to the fire, Gillespie said.
As crews doused the flames, the water that flowed back onto the snow quickly froze over, creating a sheet of ice that made it difficult for firefighters to get around safely.
Gillespie said temperatures had fallen to minus 3 by the time he left, about 2:30 a.m. Monday.
“All of our hose was frozen,” Gillespie said. “It’s currently lying out at our station to thaw out.”
Ten other area fire departments brought vehicles to ensure there was enough water and manpower. Additional departments were put on standby.
Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.