The fire was under about 20 to 30 feet of trash, and PERC employees had to dig through the pile so firefighters could extinguish it.
In this June 21, 2023, file photo, a loader moves trash at the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

A fire ignited at the Orrington trash incinerator on Friday night.

The fire at the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co., or PERC, started before 7:45 p.m., Orrington Fire Chief Scott Stewart said.

The fire in the tipping floor area likely started through spontaneous combustion, Stewart said. There were thousands of pounds of trash in the plant.

“The trash had been there so that it heats up and creates its own fire,” he said.

It was tough to reach the fire because it was in the base of the trash pile, around 20 to 30 feet in, Stewart said. PERC employees had to dig the fire out of the pile, but the smoke slowed it down.

About an hour and a half after fire crews cleared the scene, they had to return because the fire had flared back up, he said.

Delta Thermo Energy bought PERC for $1.5 million during an auction on Thursday.

PERC, which was foreclosed and stopped operations in May, continued accepting trash from Orrington residents until early September. Trash is now going to Juniper Ridge Landfill because the incinerator is full.

Marie Weidmayer is a reporter covering crime and justice. A recent transplant to Maine, she was born and raised in Michigan, where she worked for MLive, covering the criminal justice system. She graduated...