Candle blamed for Mallison Falls mill fire

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A fire early Thursday tore through one of the smaller buildings, center, at the former mill complex at 3 Mallison Falls Road in Windham. 

WINDHAM — A candle started an accidental fire that tore through one of the buildings at the old mill located at 3 Mallison Falls Road early Thursday, according to the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Investigators concluded that the fire was accidental after speaking with Joseph Smith, who had briefly been living with his family in an apartment on the third floor of the brick building, which suffered significant damage in the fire, according to the fire marshal’s office.

Smith was in the process of moving out of the building Wednesday night, the fire marshal’s office said. The power had been cut off, so Smith was apparently using candles to see.  Authorities say Smith called the fire department after discovering the fire.

Windham Fire Chief Brent Libby said in an interview that the call came in just after midnight Thursday, and that members from his department arrived to find “heavy fire inside the building.”

Libby said that the Gorham and Westbrook fire departments were also on scene. The departments took what Libby described as a “defensive attack” on the fire, fighting it from outside the building without sending firefighters inside.

The fire took about half an hour to get under control and about an hour and a half to completely extinguish, Libby said. No one was injured.

The mill complex on the Presumpscot River on the Windham-Gorham line is leased by Liberty Bell Moving and Storage, Libby said. The building that went up in flames contains work and storage space and the apartment where Smith and his family had been staying.

Liberty Bell moving trucks and employees were on site later Thursday morning. A Liberty Bell manager on the scene declined to give his name or to comment.

A proposal to redevelop the former mill complex, the site of the first sawmill in Windham, stalled in 2016.

Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or mjunker@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.

A fire early Thursday tore through one of the smaller buildings, center, at the former mill complex at 3 Mallison Falls Road in Windham.

A view of the damage from the fire at the Mallison Falls former mill complex.

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