Fire in Utah has left some Aroostook town websites down for weeks, others out of date. Credit: Hannah Caitlin / St. John Valley Times

MADAWASKA, Maine — Madawaska’s website has been out of commission since April 4, but the problem has nothing to do with Maine.

More than 2,500 miles away — in Ogden, Utah — a WebNX datacenter experienced a catastrophic generator fire during an April 4 citywide power outage. The fire triggered sprinklers that did extensive water damage to the servers inside the building.

Through an unfortunate series of linkages — a Presque Isle website developer who uses a Bath data hosting company who happened to use the Ogden center for data storage — Madawaska was just one of a handful of Aroostook towns to lose their websites in the fire.

Frenchville, St. Agatha, Portage and Fort Fairfield are among those affected by the outage, though those towns have since restored their websites to older versions. Portage’s website currently displays the town schedule for last October.

WEBXCentrics is the web developer in charge of these town sites. System Administrator Dan Breton said that most towns have pretty static websites, and were able to utilize backups from last year. St. Agatha Town Clerk Michelle Bernier reported her town website came back online in no time.

But Madawaska updates its website pretty frequently. To return to an older version would mean town office employees would have to repopulate the site with meeting minutes, agendas, town documents and other materials that have changed since the most recent backup available to them.

“We’re waiting to hope they can come up with something newer,” Madawaska Selectman Jason Boucher said.

Currently, Maine Hosting Solutions, the Bath company that coordinates the storage of this website data, is working to recover the data from Ogden. About 7 percent of its 5,000 customers were affected by the damaged servers in Utah earlier this month. Company president Daniel Eosco said that it was only today that his employees received data recovered from the Ogden center. Now it’s up to his employees to restore all of those websites to their former glory.

“All the data has 100 percent integrity,” Eosco said. “We’re hoping within 24 hours we should have that data back up.”

As for Ogden, Eosco said Maine Hosting Solutions is leaving for less water-logged pastures. The company, which has its central data storage location in Montreal, is also adding backup servers in Phoenix, Arizona, and Tampa, Florida.

Ogden is the second major data center fire this year following one on March 10 in France that put millions of European websites offline. Eosco said fires like this were virtually unheard of, and after the Ogden outage, his company is moving to be even more cautious with its data.

And he’s checked to be sure these new centers don’t use water to douse their fires.

“We’re moving everything out of Ogden,” Eosco said. “Ogden is being abandoned.”

Hannah Catlin is a reporter at the St. John Valley Times/Fiddlehead Focus in Madawaska, Maine.