A fire damaged a Fairpoint New England office building, located at 1 Northeast Road near the intersection of routes 35 and 25, on Saturday, May 14.
According to Standish Deputy Fire Chief William Rice, the fire started approximately 2:15 p.m. on the second floor and quickly spread to the attic. Forty firefighters from Standish and surrounding communities had it contained by about 3:30 p.m., he said.
Rice commended the firefighters for their excellent teamwork. He also felt their equipment, including Standish’s new ladder truck, stood up well to the rigorous workout.
“This was an historic building,” said Rice, “and as such, its balloon construction meant there were no fire stops. That made the fire harder to get under control.”
Damage to the building is estimated to be $300,000, according to Standish Fire Chief Martin Jordan, and the fire is not considered suspicious. Although the department and the State Fire Marshal have determined a point of origin, the intensity and heat of the fire made it impossible to pinpoint the cause.
“The risk adjuster is up from South Carolina,” said Jordan, “and the insurance agent from Massachusetts to determine if the building can be salvaged.”
Standish history buff Dana Edgecomb would like to see that happen. As curator of the Standish Historical Society Museum, Edgecomb is an authority on the town’s early days. Although he doesn’t know its exact age, the building is one of the older structures in Standish, probably constructed in the early 1800’s. Located in the Standish Corner Historic District, the building was a private residence before the phone company took it over.
“It’s an unfortunate loss,” said Edgecomb. “The phone company have been good stewards of the historical buildings that they own. I do hope they repair it.”
Though the building’s future is still in question, no one who works there was present at the time of the fire and no firefighters were hurt. The 22 employees who normally report there for work have been relocated to space in the company’s three other area offices.
When questioned as to Fairpoint’s future plans for the building and those employees displaced by the fire, Pamela Joy, the company’s director of market development, indicated that it is too early to tell.
“We had planned to sell some of the buildings and relocate them [the employees] to South Portland. These folks would have been part of that team,” Joy said.
Fairpoint first announced their relocation plans about a year ago, indicating that no jobs would be eliminated as a result of the move.
When questioned about the fire’s financial impact to Standish, Town Manager Gordon Billington said, “I don’t see a financial impact. They had already told us they were relocating and only four of their employees are Standish residents.”