LEWISTON – A man riding an ATV helped stop a fire at the Pepperell Mill along Adams Avenue from spreading out of control early Wednesday night.
The 7:20 p.m. fire scorched a small section of wood near the base of the building. Firefighters made fast work of the blaze after it was reported by the man riding through the dirt lot behind the mill.
The flames were snuffed out quickly, but firefighters called for help from Fire Investigator Paul Ouellette who was examining the burned area Wednesday night. Investigators believe the fire may have been set.
Ouellette said the building that burned was mostly used for storage and is filled with debris, much of it wood.
“If they hadn’t knocked it down so quick, the building would have gone up fast,” he said.
The lot behind the mill cluster is mostly vacant but is often used by people walking or riding from the downtown area to Lisbon Street. As firefighters extinguished the flames, a small group of people stood watching in another lot on Knox Street. All said they had not seen anyone suspicious coming out of the lot around the time the fire was reported.
The identity of the ATV rider was not immediately known.
For police and fire investigators, the blaze was one of several small fires to plague the area in recent days. Since the end of last week, firefighters have been called to at least one dumpster fire and an incident in which a homemade acid bomb was exploded near River Valley Village Apartments (formerly Tall Pines).
Those fires, as well as the one at the Pepperell Mill, remained under investigation Wednesday night.