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Gorham firefighters called to paper mill fire twice Monday

GORHAM — Firefighters had to show up twice early Monday morning for a paper mill fire they thought had been extinguished when an added-on section between two buildings caught fire after midnight.

There were no injuries and Gorham Paper and Tissue lost little production Monday after work was interrupted for a time during one of its two 12-hour daily shifts, according to Gorham Fire Chief Rick Eichler.

The Gorham Fire Department was summoned to the property on Cascade Flats at around 2:30 a.m. after fire broke out in a long, narrow connector building that was not made of the same fire-resistant materials as most of the rest of the mill structures, the chief said.

“It was about 150 feet long and three feet wide. The mill workers put the fire out, but we were there for about an hour, working on hot spots,” he said.

The chief said after firefighters cleared the scene at about 3:40 a.m., they were called out again when fire erupted in the connector building made of plywood and dimension lumber, rather than the brick, concrete and steel that was used to build most of the mill.

“An hour after we cleared, fire broke out in the roof space and followed a steam line,” he said.

Eichler and his firefighters returned, but the second time they summoned help from departments in Berlin, Shelburne, Randolph, Jefferson and Milan. The second part of the effort took about 3½ hours, and firefighters cleared the scene at about 8 a.m. Monday, Eichler said Tuesday, adding that an exact cause of the fire had not been determined.

“It’s a section where two buildings come together, and there was a lot of heat up there, and a lot of flammables like oil, paper and dust,” he said.

The property near the Gorham-Berlin line has played a long and prominent role in the area. It was originally the site of a sawmill in the mid-19th century, and was home for more than a century to Brown Company paper products.

After a 2010 liquidation at the site, Gorham Paper and Tissue opened there in 2011, producing flat paper as well paper towels and tissue products.


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