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Sat, Oct 20, 2018 00:11
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Massive fire burns former Lincoln paper mill

LINCOLN, Maine (From news reports) -- Flames several stories high destroyed one large building and heavily damaged at least one more at the former Lincoln paper mill on Wednesday.

No injuries had been reported as of 8 p.m., said Dan Summers, Lincoln's public safety director.

Firefighters from 11 departments knocked down most of the flames as of 8 p.m., almost three hours after Lincoln's firefighters responded to a fire at the scale shed at 50 Katahdin Ave., Summers said.

"We still have some hot spots," Summers said during a telephone interview. "This is probably going to be an all-night thing for us."

Firefighters had finished knocking down that blaze on the eastern side of the 387-acre Lincoln Paper and Tissue LLC site, near Mill Street, when a second fire, on the western side of the property near the main Katahdin Avenue entrance, was reported at about 5:20 p.m., Summers said.

That second fire destroyed a large warehouse-type building, Summers said.

State fire marshal's office investigators were interviewing people to determine what started the fires, Summers said.

A demolition or salvage crew was on scene when the fires occurred, indicating the fire might have started accidentally, he said.

Photographs posted to social media show flames at least a story high.

The paper mill filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2015, eventually laying off 128 workers employed there at the time. A boiler explosion in November 2013 left the mill leaking cash by ending Lincoln Paper's ability to make pulp and paper.

Lincoln officials have sought Superfund status for a portion of the site, saying it was heavily contaminated with asbestos and other toxins. They also hoped to develop a less-contaminated smaller parcel.

The property's owners sought bankruptcy court permission to begin marketing the site in August.

Firefighters from Burlington, East Millinocket, Howland, Lee, Lincoln, Lowell, Mattawamkeag, Milford, Passadumkeag and Springfield were on scene, as was the Maine Forest Service, Summers said.

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