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Bennington

Fire shuts down Bennington mill

ELECTRICAL DAMAGE: Historic mill hopes to reopen next week

  • Bennington Fire Chief Mike Roina assesses the damage to the electrical units at the Monadnock Paper Mills in Bennington the morning following a three-alarm electrical, which has left the mill without power.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Bennington Fire Chief Mike Roina assesses the damage to the electrical units at the Monadnock Paper Mills in Bennington the morning following a three-alarm electrical, which has left the mill without power.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Over 60 firefighters responded in the early hours of Monday morning to a fourth-alarm equivalent electrical fire at the Mondanock Paper Mill in Bennington. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Over 60 firefighters responded in the early hours of Monday morning to a fourth-alarm equivalent electrical fire at the Mondanock Paper Mill in Bennington.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Over 60 firefighters responded in the early hours of Monday morning to a fourth-alarm equivalent electrical fire at the Mondanock Paper Mill in Bennington. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Over 60 firefighters responded in the early hours of Monday morning to a fourth-alarm equivalent electrical fire at the Mondanock Paper Mill in Bennington.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Bennington Fire Chief Mike Roina, left, speaks with Monadnock Paper Mills Plant Supervisor Mike Butler on Wednesday, concerning the damage to the basement of the paper mill following a fire earlier that morning. <br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Bennington Fire Chief Mike Roina, left, speaks with Monadnock Paper Mills Plant Supervisor Mike Butler on Wednesday, concerning the damage to the basement of the paper mill following a fire earlier that morning.
    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Over 60 firefighters responded in the early hours of Monday morning to a fourth-alarm equivalent electrical fire at the Mondanock Paper Mill in Bennington. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Over 60 firefighters responded in the early hours of Monday morning to a fourth-alarm equivalent electrical fire at the Mondanock Paper Mill in Bennington.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Over 60 firefighters responded in the early hours of Monday morning to a fourth-alarm equivalent electrical fire at the Mondanock Paper Mill in Bennington. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Over 60 firefighters responded in the early hours of Monday morning to a fourth-alarm equivalent electrical fire at the Mondanock Paper Mill in Bennington.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Bennington Fire Chief Mike Roina assesses the damage to the electrical units at the Monadnock Paper Mills in Bennington the morning following a three-alarm electrical, which has left the mill without power.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Over 60 firefighters responded in the early hours of Monday morning to a fourth-alarm equivalent electrical fire at the Mondanock Paper Mill in Bennington. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Over 60 firefighters responded in the early hours of Monday morning to a fourth-alarm equivalent electrical fire at the Mondanock Paper Mill in Bennington. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Bennington Fire Chief Mike Roina, left, speaks with Monadnock Paper Mills Plant Supervisor Mike Butler on Wednesday, concerning the damage to the basement of the paper mill following a fire earlier that morning. <br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Over 60 firefighters responded in the early hours of Monday morning to a fourth-alarm equivalent electrical fire at the Mondanock Paper Mill in Bennington. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Over 60 firefighters responded in the early hours of Monday morning to a fourth-alarm equivalent electrical fire at the Mondanock Paper Mill in Bennington. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

BENNINGTON — A three-alarm electrical fire at the Monadnock Paper Mills in Bennington early Wednesday will leave the business in the dark until at least next week.

At approximately 3 a.m. on Wednesday, an automatic fire alarm notified emergency services of a possible fire in the electrical room of the Monadnock Paper Mills on Antrim Road in Bennington, said Bennington Fire Chief Mike Roina in an interview at the Monadnock Paper Mills on Wednesday morning. Almost immediately after receiving the notification, the fire was upgraded to a first alarm. By the time it was over, the fire was at three alarms, and Roina said that even at that point, more aid was called for, making the fire a four-alarm equivalent.

“It’s the biggest incident Bennington’s had since I can remember,” said Roina, who has been with the department for more than 13 years. And even for the department members with a longer history, this is the most devestating fire they’ve seen, he added..

There were approximately 40 employees in the building at the time of the alarm, according to Joe Fletcher, Monadnock Paper Mills vice president of human resources, in an interview at Monadnock Paper Mills on Wednesday morning. When the alarm sounded, they all exited the building and none were hurt. According to Roina, when crews first arrived, there was some fear that there may still be an employee inside, as one worker wasn’t immediately accounted for, but he was located quickly, and crews confirmed the building was empty of personnel.

The fire was electrical in nature, and was contained within the electrical room in the basement of the mill, Roina said. Fire crews do not yet know what caused the fire, he added. Roina said crews shut off the four sources of electricity to the building before entering. Even though the fire was contained to a single room, Roina said, the effects could be felt throughout the basement as crews entered the scene.

“There was quite a bit of smoke and heat all throughout the basement. The room was actually hard to locate, due to how much heat and smoke there were, plus the size of the building,”

The fire won’t have a significant impact on the mill’s operations over the course of the coming week, said Fletcher. The mill had a planned shut down for summer maintenance scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m., so the mill wouldn’t have been in operation for the coming days anyway, he said. The summer shut down was scheduled to end on July 8, and Fletcher said it is the hope of the mill’s management team that it will be possible to have the electrical system replaced by that time.

“We’re planning to be up and running on schedule,” said Fletcher. “We’ll get it done, we have a good community of people here.”

Mill executives were still in the process of doing damage assessment on Monday morning, said Fletcher, and couldn’t be sure of the extent of the damage caused by the fire or the cost of repairs. “We were fortunate in that we got a tremendous response from our local emergency services,” said Fletcher. “And in that our employees did exactly what they were supposed to do in terms of evacuation.”

Crews from Antrim, Francestown, Greenfield, Hancock, Henniker, Hillsborough, Lyndeborough, Peterborough, Stoddard and Wilton assisted the Bennington Fire Department.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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