BATH (AP) – A fire early Thursday swept through the former Stinson Seafood cannery, a sardine plant along the Kennebec River that closed a year ago and was sold to a developer who hoped to convert it into condominiums.

There were no reports of injury in the blaze that was spotted by a neighbor at about 2:30 a.m. and drew firefighters from a dozen communities.

Bath Fire Chief Steve Hinds said the damage will exceed $1 million.

The fire was raging and the walls had collapsed when firefighters arrived, Hinds said. The heat was so great that at one point firefighters directed all hoses at nearby houses to keep them from catching fire.

Among the bystanders watching the smoldering blaze was Dick Klingaman, a former owner of Stinson Seafood who lives nearby.

Klingaman said the two main wooden structures were built in 1915 by the company that later became Texaco.

He said there was a major fire in 1936, 10 years before the property was converted to a sardine cannery.

The state fire marshal’s office was seeking the cause of the fire, and Hinds suggested that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms may be called in to assist.

Bruce Poliquin purchased the property in March with plans to build about 40 townhouse-style homes and a marina, but city officials denied his request to rezone the site from commercial to residential.

Poliquin recalled having talked to city officials in recent months about letting the fire department use the site for training.

“It’s ironic,” he said. “But now that the buildings are destroyed, perhaps the metal buildings could be used by the city or a nonprofit organization.”

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