BUCKFIELD — It took firefighters from at least a half-dozen towns more than two hours to extinguish a fire at R.E. Lowell Lumber on North Hill Road on Saturday afternoon.

Elwood Lowell, who runs the mill with his family, said a passerby spotted smoke and flames coming from the mill at around 3:30 p.m. and called 911. When fire crews arrived, they found two lumber-drying kilns and part of a boiler on fire. Eventually, the fire engulfed three kilns and the entire boiler. 

Lowell said it took crews about two and a half hours to get the fire under control. Although there were other kilns and dry wood nearby, firefighters kept the blaze from spreading further. 

“Everybody’s done an excellent job,” Lowell said. “What I’m thankful for is that so far, nobody’s been hurt.” 

Crews remained on scene into the evening to extinguish hot spots.

The fire caused at least $500,000 in damage, Lowell said. The lumber yard does have insurance and Lowell said his family plans to rebuild as soon as possible.

Lowell expected the fire marshal to be at the scene Monday to investigate the cause of the fire. Lowell last left the mill around 12:30 p.m. Saturday; his son was there until about 2 p.m, Lowell said.

“Everything was fine then,” he said.

Lowell’s father started R.E. Lowell Lumber in the early 1950s. Over the years, Lowell and his siblings entered the business. They built a new saw mill, added a planer mill, lumber-drying kilns and other facilities.

“It’s been a work in progress since the ’50s,” Lowell said. 

The mill now sends lumber as far away as North Carolina. It’s often used for individual homes. 

The lumber mill and retail store will be open for business as usual. The mill may have to temporarily send some of its lumber elsewhere to be dried.

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Firefighters spray a fire that broke out at R.E. Lowell Lumber on North Hill Road in Buckfield on Saturday. At least a half-dozen fire departments responded to the afternoon blaze.

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