A family is picking up the pieces in Mechanic Falls, after the massive mill complex they own burned to the ground. Credit: WGME

A family is picking up the pieces in Mechanic Falls, after the massive mill complex they own burned to the ground.

The Starbird family says they have owned the mill for more than 10 years.

They built it up after years of neglect, but all that’s left are charred remains, and even while the owner says he’s battling Stage 4 cancer, he’s determined build back up to leave a legacy behind.

Chuck Starbird walks his now-destroyed property with a new outlook.

“What are you going to do?” Starbird said. “I’ve got to take care of my wife, my family and this gives me a good reason to get up every morning.”

Ten years ago, he and his wife bought the former mill site, hoping to make an impact on the community.

“We put a lot of money into it and go it up to where it was functioning and brought a number of businesses here in town,” Starbird said.

But Sunday’s fire took that all away within a few moments.

“We built a lot of memories in this building with friends and family and everyone worked really hard to make this was it is today, or what it was,” Colleen Starbird said.

The Starbirds say they could have never predicted a fire like this.

“Those old timbers were so dry, they just acted like a wick,” Chuck Starbird said.

They dropped their insurance on the building a few years back, because it had gotten too expensive, although some of the businesses and people storing property there did have insurance of their own.

Even while battling Stage 4 lung and bone cancer, Chuck Starbird is determined to rebuild for his family.

“The VA says I’m going to die shortly from cancer, and I’m just going to have to put that on hold because I have to get this back up and running because that’s going to be her retirement money when I’m gone,” Starbird said. “I’m going to have to put dying on hold for a while.”

The State Fire Marshal’s Office says because of how significant the damage is, they may never know what caused the fire, but they do believe it started on the first floor.

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