Accidental fire destroys two boats in MiltonBy JOHN QUINN
Union Leader Correspondent
July 01. 2014 7:26PM
MILTON — Fire chief Nick Marique said improperly disposed fiberglass shavings and remnants started a fire at a local boat making company Monday night that destroyed a pair of boats.
Police, firefighters and emergency personnel responded at 11:36 p.m. after a fire alarm sounded at 11 Industrial Way — home of Eastern Boats.
Marique said Deputy Fire Chief Jake Bourdeau — who also works at Eastern Boats — sounded a first alarm after smelling smoke at the facility. Due to the size and nature of the facility, he added it was upgraded to a second alarm to bring in additional manpower.
After the fire was stalled by the sprinkler system, Marique said firefighters were able to extinguish the remaining flames with a single hose. As a result, he added the second alarm was canceled and Somersworth firefighters were sent home.
Marique said local firefighters were assisted by counterparts from Farmington, Middleton, Rochester and Wakefield. He added paramedics from Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester also responded to the scene while firefighters from Lebanon, Maine, provided station coverage.
Marique said firefighters completed their investigation early Tuesday morning.
“The cause is believed to be improperly disposed of industrial materials,” Marique said, adding the owners have had this issue with fiberglass shavings before and plan to re-address it.
Bob Bourdeau, owner of Eastern Boats, said he arrived at the business just before firefighters arrived. He added the fire occurred in a large, enclosed work area separate from the rest of the business.
Eastern Boats, which has three buildings, has more than 30,000 square-feet of work space, which includes designated areas for fiberglass, assembly and rigging operations, according to the company’s website.
Bourdeau said the separate layout was done by design, for safety purposes. He added the sprinkler system was able to prevent the fire from spreading further.
Bourdeau credited firefighters for their swift response.
“They knocked it down pretty quick,” Bourdeau said. He said employees were able to save most of the boats, equipment and parts — all of which were washed down after the fire.
“We had seven boats in here, but only two were ruined,” Bourdeau said, adding a pair of boats — a 22-footer and a 24-footer — will have to be scrapped.
“We’re going to rebuild, so it will take about a month,” Bourdeau said, adding one of the owners — who anticipated putting his new boat in the water July 15 — was obviously disappointed at the delay.
Nonetheless, Bourdeau said the new owner is not upset with the company, which will pay for the new boats, which cost about $60,000 apiece.
“We sell all over the country,” Bourdeau said, adding while their boats can navigate small lakes — like Milton Three Ponds — they are mostly used in the ocean.
Bourdeau said he expected to meet an insurance adjuster, since the fire also caused minor smoke damage to the walls and ceiling of the building.
He added it could be far worse, especially since the company previously had to relocate to Milton after a devastating fire occurred in 1993.
“This is just a hiccup, that’s for sure,” Bourdeau said, adding the incident will not affect operations for the company, which recently expanded to 43 employees.
Bourdeau said Eastern Boats began operating in East Rochester in 1981 before moving to its current location in 1999. He added they were one of the first companies to build in the Milton Industrial Park along Route 125.