Blaze burns Westbrook's only grocery
WESTBROOK -- The main source of groceries for Westbrook area residents -- Maynard's Grocery Store, located at 627 First Ave. -- was consumed by fire Saturday afternoon.
According to Westbrook Fire Chief Curtis Madson, the blaze was reported at about 1:45 p.m. Saturday, while the store was open for business. Customers and employees all reportedly got out safely.
"There was a lot of smoke and flames shooting out of the east side," which is the back end of the store, Madson detailed.
Cardboard is baled in the general area in which the flames and smoke were first noticed, Madson confirmed. By the time firefighters arrived at the scene, the fire had already spread, so pinpointing its ignition point at that time was not possible.
"It's undetermined where it started," Madson said. "That's still under investigation."
The state fire marshal has already visited the scene and was expected back to continue the investigation.
Firefighters were on the scene until after 10 p.m. Saturday and continued to be on watch Sunday.
"It rekindled a couple of times during the night, too," said Westbrook Police Chief Alan Wahl. "We were up basically with it until this morning, had people out in shifts to keep the scene secure and safe and make sure there are no flare-ups."
Several walls of the structure are still standing -- block walls that withstood the blaze -- but otherwise, the store is a complete loss, according to Madson and Wahl. The fire was difficult to fight because there were multiple layers of ceiling with air pockets between that fueled the blaze, and the store's contents provided an ongoing source of things to burn.
Westbrook Mayor Rocky Kolar was visiting in Montrose, S.D., when he got word of the fire and headed immediately back home. He termed the blaze "a pretty big loss" to the community. There is a convenience store in Westbrook at which residents can purchase some grocery items, but Maynard's was the town's prime grocery shopping location. Traveling to grocery shop in other towns will be especially difficult for the town's older residents.
Kolar expected to visit with the Maynard's owners sometime today and expressed hope they would be willing to rebuild or find another location.
"We hope to see them continue to do business in town by all means," he said.