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Huhtamaki Waterville, Maine mill nears return to full production after fire

WATERVILLE, Maine (From news reports) -- The Huhtamaki paper plate facility expects to be back at full production within one week after a four-alarm fire on Jan. 29 in the Fairfield portion of its plant caused more than $1 million in damages.

"The recovery is proceeding very well," Wess Hudelson, a spokesman at the company's headquarters in DeSoto, Kansas, said. The long factory stretches from Waterville to Fairfield.

"Repairs to the roof are complete and all affected areas inside our facility have been repaired," he said.

Within three days of the incident production at the facility was running at approximately 75 percent and within two weeks, it returned to 90 percent, Hudelson said.

He said the finished goods storage area at Waterville is located away from the area where the fire took place, and there is no damage to those products.

"We also store products in external warehouses," he said. "With our inventory and redundancy in production from other locations we have experienced no service disruptions."

The state fire marshal's office ruled the fire an accident. It was caused by a dryer malfunction.

Huhtamaki, a Finland-based food and beverage package maker, has facilities in Waterville and Lewiston. The Waterville mill makes compostable paper plates.

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