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11/26/2013 2:00:00 PM
South Bristol Fire Destroys Boatyard

By J.W. Oliver

The fire quickly flattened a 40-by-60 shop. Here, a pile of debris, the only remains of the shop, continues to burn an hour after the initial report 
of the fire. (J.W. Oliver photo)
The fire quickly flattened a 40-by-60 shop. Here, a pile of debris, the only remains of the shop, continues to burn an hour after the initial report of the fire. (J.W. Oliver photo)
A fire at a South Bristol boatyard destroyed a 40-by-60-foot shop and 10 boats, including several valuable antiques, Nov. 22.

The fire at Shop to Shore Carpentry Inc. at 141 Split Rock Rd. burned the three-level wood shop to the ground with a fiberglass sailboat inside. "There's nothing left of it," South Bristol Fire Chief Mark Carrothers said of the building.

The fire also burned nine boats inside a 40-by-70 storage shed. "What I'm looking at right now, every one of (the boats) is a total loss," Carrothers said.

The metal frame of the shed still stands, although much of the plastic roof and walls burned or melted.

No one was inside the buildings when the fire started and there were no injuries, Carrothers said.

The origin and cause of the fire are "undetermined, due to the extent of damage," Sgt. Tim York of the State Fire Marshal's Office said.

Rene and Mary Goulette of South Bristol own and operate Shop to Shore Carpentry Inc. Mary Goulette estimated the damage at "a couple million dollars" or more.

The boats inside the storage shed included a 40-foot boat and a 28-foot boat with values of about $240,000 and $200,000, respectively, according to Rene Goulette.

Boats burn inside the metal-and-plastic shed. (J.W. Oliver photo)
Boats burn inside the metal-and-plastic shed. (J.W. Oliver photo)
The other boats include a 24-foot wood lobster boat and an antique Chris-Craft. Rene Goulette estimated the value of those boats, the sailboat in the shop and another wood boat at more than $100,000 apiece.

"There was a skiff in there, that burnt; there was an old cruiser that I was working on, that burnt up," he said. "The boat right in front, that's a Shamrock, that's gone. My car, apparently it melted the back end of it."

The shop and the tools inside also represent a significant loss, he said. "I just put $1,000 worth of lumber in there to start another job," he said.

He said he had been at his shop less than an hour before the fire, which was reported at about 6 p.m.

"I have no idea what started it," he said. "I was just here."

"I looked in the door ... all the lights were off, everything was off," he said. "I have no idea. I'm very careful with everything."

He had completed some preparations for winter the morning of the fire. "I just put all the boats in (the storage shed) that were going to go in there and covered the front of the building," he said.

"I hope my insurance will pay for it ... I'm supposed to be insured for everything," he said. "With any luck, I'll be able to rebuild it."

He had plans to start a side project soon. "I was going to build a gypsy wagon this winter," he said. "I haven't got a shop to build it in now."

The South Bristol Fire Department was assisted at the scene by the Bremen, Bristol, Damariscotta, Newcastle and Nobleboro fire departments, as well as the Central Lincoln County Ambulance Service and Central Maine Power Company.

"This is one of the more intense (fires) that we've had," Carrothers said. "We've had a few that have been bigger, but it's a shock when you have to go to any fire in town. We usually don't have too many structure fires in South Bristol."

The firefighters received reports of explosions soon after the initial page, possibly from fuel-oil tanks, Carrothers said.

Carrothers praised the "excellent response from all the mutual-aid towns."

"They got here quickly when we realized this was going to be a difficult one to fight," he said. "We called in more tankers, called in Damariscotta's ladder truck ... you don't see that everyday, the ladder truck responding to South Bristol."

The ladder truck led the attack on the fire, pouring water on the flames from above. The fleet of tankers supplied water to the truck.

The "initial knockdown" of the fire was around 8:30-9 p.m. and the "mop-up" continued until about 10:30-10:45 p.m., Carrothers said. As of 11:15 p.m., the South Bristol Fire Department was still at the scene to watch for "flare-ups."

The firefighters were able to prevent the fire from spreading to a large garage nearby. John Harris owns the garage, Rene Goulette said.

The fire closed Split Rock Road for several hours.

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