FRYEBURG – Veterinarian Scott Johnson can’t say enough good things about the way the community has helped out since fire consumed the Fryeburg Veterinary Hospital April 25.

Because of the help, the hospital was able to relocate to a new space and was back up and running eight days after the fire.

Two days after the fire, a client who is a real estate agent found a vacant building for the veterinary hospital to rent at 85 Portland St. in town, and other clients have “really gone above and beyond,” bringing blankets, donating shelving, painting and cleaning the new temporary space.

It hasn’t just been clients of the vet hospital, either.

“So many people in the community have helped us, even people from other towns, to get back on our feet,” Johnson said.

Eventually the pet hospital, begun in 1987 by Dr. Steve Caffrey, will rebuild on the same Route 302 site where this week only a pile of rubble remains. The first stage will be to create a new design for the hospital, and Johnson expects it will be a good nine months to a year before the new building will be complete.

Quick action by staff allowed the evacuation of all animals and people from the hospital, Johnson said, when smoke was spotted coming from the kennel area at 4:30 p.m. By the time the building was fully involved, all animals and people were safe.

That’s a very busy time, he said, the end of the day, and it was a Friday. The hospital had close to 12 animals, either medical or surgical cases, many awaiting their owners to come pick them up.

“These owners were actually showing up to find the hospital on fire,” he said. Some of the animals that weren’t ready to go home had to be taken to other area veterinary hospitals.

The investigation of the cause of the fire so far has pointed to an electrical problem of faulty wiring, Johnson said. He and his partners, fellow vets Caffrey, Susan Gilliland, Kjersten Morrison and Elissa Bessonette, have been able to salvage many files and computers, even some surgical instruments undamaged in the fire.

Fryeburg Veterinary Hospital had operated from the Route 302 site for six years, and operated before that at a small house in Fryeburg Village.

For now, the doctors and other staff are making do at their new home, he said. “We’re just about working at full capacity again. The mammals are coming back.”



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