HOULTON, Maine — The cause of the structure fire that destroyed three Houlton businesses last month is undetermined due to the severity of the fire and the completeness of the burn, according to the state fire marshal’s office.
The Sept. 19 fire at 66 Industrial St. at the Houlton International Airport ripped through Family Roots, a medical marijuana dispensary; Tiny Homes of Maine, a tiny home manufacturer; and HSC Auctions, an online auction house for estate furnishings.
An old World War II hangar that housed the businesses was completely engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived on scene just after 8 p.m., said Houlton Fire Chief Milton Cone.
“This was challenging,” said Cone.
The following morning the Houlton Fire Department contacted the State Fire Marshal’s Office, requesting assistance.
According to the fire marshal, the original hangar collapsed due to damage sustained during the fire. Several additions had been added throughout the years and built with fire rated walls which remained standing.
Not only did the 29 Houlton firefighters have to fight the fire that leveled the hangar, they protected Ward Cedar Log Homes, a more than 100-year-old family business located close to the hangar.
Additionally, firefighters helped the three businesses affected by the fire move equipment and product to safety.
Emma and John Willigar, owners of Family Roots, said that they saved most of the product in the shop and one crop of plants almost ready for harvest with the firefighters’ help.
These long-established Houlton businesses are still figuring out their next steps, but if they are unable to recover from such devastation, it would be a huge loss to the community, according to town officials.
The Willigars, although not insured, are already buying lumber and supplies to start rebuilding the structure, John Willigar said on Monday.
Additionally, they are delivering prescriptions to their patients daily, he said.
Tiny Homes of Maine owners said the day after the fire that they would be moving to a temporary facility in Dyer Brook and then determining their next steps.
HSC Auctions just moved to the airport location in August. According to Amy Carmicheal, who co-owns the business with Matt Carr, HSC Auctions lost an almost eight-month supply of antiques. They are hoping to start over if they can find a building with about 5,000 to 6,000 square feet for storage and another 2,000 square feet for the auction hall, she said.