Massive Fire At Belfast Potato Processing Plant Likely Caused by Fryolator Machine
Update (1:57 PM)
Investigators say they believe the fire was started by one of the large fryolator machines in the plant. The fire started at about 3:30 AM Thursday. Eight employees were in the building at the time. All were able to evacuate the building. There were no injuries.
Crews are still on the scene.
Update (10:15 AM)
The Waldo County Emergency Management Agency has just given the all-clear and lifted the "Shelter-In-Place" order for residents in Belfast. The Fire at the Penobscot McCrum Plant is now under control.
Update (9:45 AM)
Waldo County EMA says Route 1 has been reopened. The fire is mostly knocked down at the moment. CMP is on-site turning off the power to all the transformers. The DEP is also on-site overseeing the situation. There is still NO ammonia leak or any other chemical leak at the building. Members from the Environmental Protection Agency are en route to the location to check for any environmental damage. Residents are still asked to Shelter-In-Place. The EMA will send out the word when it is safe to move about.
A massive fire that broke out at the Penobscot McCrum Potato Processing Plant in Belfast in the early morning hours Thursday, prompted a "Shelter In Place" warning for residents in that area.
The Penobscot McCrum Plant processes potato products and has several chemicals on hand as part of what they do. The main concern, at the moment, is the ammonia that is on-site could leak and cause an issue. However, officials with the Waldo County Emergency Management Agency say there is no leak at this time.
As a precaution, the Waldo County EMA has issued a "shelter in place" alert for anyone within a quarter-mile radius of the plant, which is located on Pierce Street. Officials advise that residents in that area should turn their HVAC and heat pump units off, stay inside their homes, and do their best to not allow air from the outside to come inside. At the moment, this is primarily due to the smoke outside. But if ammonia does start to leak, they will increase that radius to one mile.
Officials say that the Veterans Bridge, essentially most of the Route 1 area, has been shut down, as well.
Also as a precaution, both the Belfast Area High School and the East Belfast Elementary School were evacuated this morning, and classes have been canceled for all RSU71 schools in the area for the day.
Several neighboring Fire Departments are still working with the Belfast Fire and Ambulance to contain the situation, including Searsport, Northport, Lincolnville, Morrill, Montville, Liberty, and Searsmont. West Frankfort HazMat was put on standby, in case of a situation where chemicals did start to leak at the area but have not yet been needed.
We will update the story as more information becomes available.