OLD TOWN, Maine — A fire ripped through an Old Town woodshop early Tuesday, destroying the custom furniture business that the owner started in late 2020.
A passerby reported seeing a large fire through the woods, but the structure sits about 1,000 feet from the road, so it was difficult to see exactly what went up in flames, said Matt Redding, an Old Town Fire Rescue captain.
A police officer who was the first person to arrive reported a fully involved structure fire at Bren’s Woodworks. Firefighters arrived behind him. The officer woke up homeowners living in a house on the property, who are the parents of Brenden Gasaway, the woodworker, Redding said.
Old Town Fire Rescue doesn’t see too many fires this involved, but time and location are major factors, the captain said. The woodshop is on West Old Town Road, which is fairly well-traveled, but not so early in the morning.
Though the shop, a tractor and an enclosed trailer holding custom-made cubbies that were set to be delivered were destroyed, no one was hurt in the fire, Redding said.
“It’s hard to pinpoint what caused the fire because everything was destroyed,” he said Wednesday. “We can’t say with 100 percent certainty what it was, so we’re labeling it as undetermined.”
When crews arrived at the woodshop, the roof had already collapsed and most walls were consumed by the fire. The largest hazard was two 250-pound propane tanks whose pressure release valves, a safety feature, had opened, Redding said.
Firefighters focused on cooling the tanks so that pressure building up would not cause them to rupture, which can be dangerous, Redding said. They spent three and a half hours on scene.
Getting a continuous water supply established was another challenge because the property had a long driveway that was not near hydrants in town, he said. Tankers from mutual aid partners were needed, and firefighters from Alton, Bradley, Glenburn, Hudson, Milford and Orono responded.
Gasaway had accomplished good work and attracted many clients, and “to see that all go away was devastating,” Redding said.
Gasaway, who shared the news on Facebook, said the fire did not mean this was the end of his business but a minor setback. He could not be reached by phone Wednesday, but he hopes to be up and running again in a couple weeks, according to his post.
Gasaway’s friend, Josh Wheeler, set up a GoFundMe page, and donations will be used to help rebuild the shop and replace inventory lost in the fire. With only three years of making custom furniture in the shop and shipping it to Maine customers under his belt, Gasaway has established himself as a respected woodworker, the page said. Donations surpassed the $3,000 goal in less than a day.
As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, 106 donations were made, totaling $8,180, according to the GoFundMe page.
“I was very lucky to have such a great first shop,” Gasaway said. “I loved every day in it. I am thankful to have such a great family and friends [who helped] me build this business over the last few years.”