Firefighters from several Hancock County towns battle flames that destroyed a seafood processing plant in Trenton on Saturday night. PHOTO BY JAMIE CAMPBELL/FIRESTORM PHOTOGRAPHY

Seafood plant gutted

TRENTON — Flames destroyed a just-completed steel seafood processing building on the Bar Harbor Road here Saturday night.

The building housed Acadia Aqua Farms, a company owned and operated by Theo and Fiona de Koning. No injuries were reported.

Several area fire departments responded after the Trenton Volunteer Fire Department asked for mutual aid assistance. No injuries were reported, but fighting the fire took all night, from about 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. with some firefighters working until noon to clean up and get trucks and hoses back in service, Chief Steve Corson said.

“Fire was not showing on the outside, but it was fully involved inside” when firefighters arrived, he said. He called for a defensive operation in which firefighters remain outside the structure. The second floor had collapsed.

Units from Ellsworth, Lamoine, Surry, Hancock, Mount Desert, Bar Harbor, Sorrento and Sullivan responded. Several others were standing by.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the state fire marshal’s office.

The 60-by-68-foot, two-story building had been under construction during the summer. The de Konings were ready to begin trial processing of mussels there this week.

“It took us two years to get it complete and two minutes to destroy,” Fiona de Koning said Monday. “Theo said it feels like running a marathon, and when you see the finish line, you see it actually says ‘Start.’” The de Konings had left the building for the night about 20 minutes before a neighbor reported the fire, she said.

Acadia Aqua Farms operates the barge Stewardship and rents a small shore facility on Route 1 in Hancock. Most of the mussel processing has been happening aboard the barge, de Koning said, but they were planning to move the work to the new building.

“We brought the very last pieces of equipment from the boat, and they’ve also been destroyed,” she said, “so we’ve sort of disabled ourselves. We’ve spoken with the manufacturers, and there are two pieces of equipment they’re putting on fast track for us.”

When the replacement equipment arrives, they’ll return to processing on the boat for the time being, she said. The new plant and equipment were insured.

“It could have been so much worse,” she said. “This is a big setback, but it’s things, and they can be replaced. All our people were safe. I’m absolutely overwhelmed by the response from family, friends and community. I’m completely in awe of the firefighters, that they volunteer their time to help us. All sorts of people that barely know us have offered help. It’s kind of humbling. This is a wonderful place to live.”

Reporter Charles Eichacker contributed reporting to this story.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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