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Destructive fire at Maine potato factory believed to be caused by fryolator

Fire crews pour water on the burning building at the Penobscot McCrum facility in Belfast.
Abigail Curtis
Bangor Daily News
Fire crews pour water on the burning building at the Penobscot McCrum facility in Belfast.

The community of Belfast is coming together after an overnight fire destroyed the Penobscot McCrum potato processing plant that employed 120 people.

The fire was reported at 2 a.m. and fire departments from nearby towns came to assist. Belfast Mayor Eric Sanders says residents were asked to shelter in place, schools were closed and a nursing home was evacuated over concerns that ammonia tanks on the site could rupture. Sanders says with the fire under control the City will now turn to plans to help the workers impacted by the fire.

"We have a Keep the Faith Fund that we put in place for COVID two years ago and we have ample funds in there to help out with food and assistance," Sanders says. "The City will be actively involved in helping the families with food and anything else they need."}

Penobscot McCrum has been a major employer in the region for decades. Sanders says a job fair and benefit suppers are already planned to help displaced workers and their families. The State Fire Marshal believes the fire was started by one of the large fryolator machines. Eight employees on site at the start of the fire got out safely.