PARIS – Emergency responders went from fighting paper fires to fighting paperwork after a stubborn warehouse blaze was finally doused over the weekend.

Fifty-three fire departments helped fight a fire at NEPW Logistics on Pine Street or provided direct support at nearby stations. The fire started Wednesday afternoon, apparently after a spark from a welder’s torch ignited paper pulp stored inside the building on Pine Street.

On Saturday, the last of six rail cars pinned under debris from a collapsed portion of roof was removed and the fire was extinguished, said Scott Parker, director of the Oxford County Emergency Management Agency.

He said Chief Brad Frost of the Paris Fire Department went up in a LifeFlight helicopter with thermal-imaging equipment from the Rumford Police Department to do a final check on hot spots in the building. The last one was snuffed Sunday, Frost said.

The county’s Incident Management Assistance Team is gathering information from fire departments and services contracted during the emergency to determine the cost of the response per department, Parker said.

“That’s going to take some time, and it’s not going to happen in a day,” said Parker. “It’s going to happen in a week if we’re lucky.”

He said the departments have had to pay out of their operational budgets but can be reimbursed by NEPW’s insurance. Paris Town Manager Sharon Jackson said the town plans to submit a claim to NEPW’s insurance for reimbursement.

“This has really taxed the budgets of several towns,” she said.

The Paris Fire Department is also in the process of getting equipment used in fighting the fire back to the lending departments.

Frost said the building was turned over to the company this morning, and representatives from NEPW’s insurance company and the state Fire Marshal’s Office had been to the warehouse. He said there was limited access to the building.

“There’s still beams that are coming down, and bales of paper are still falling,” said Frost.

Drew Gilman, president of NEPW, said the company had found temporary locations in Oxford and Auburn and was looking into more space in the Lewiston-Auburn area. Gilman said the eight administrative workers from the warehouse had been moved to the company’s Mechanic Falls location and about 20 warehouse workers were working in satellite offices or taking inventory at the Paris location.

“For us, the most important thing is to continue to serve our customers. It’s a day-to-day operation,” Gilman said.

He said the condition of the paper pulp and paper products inside the building ranged from undamaged to a total loss. He did not have an estimate of the amount of damage on Monday.

Parker said representatives from all of the participating emergency agencies have been invited to an after-action review in Paris scheduled for Wednesday evening. He said the departments would identify the major issues involved in fighting the blaze.

The EMA will conduct its own after-action review with the York County EMA to determine how well the agencies coordinated with other responders, Parker said.


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