BAR HARBOR — A bed sheet caught in a machine known as “the mangler” caught fire around 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the Bar Harbor Laundry Company in Hulls Cove. Quick action by two employees there had the fire extinguished before it could spread. The fire was big enough to fill the small building with smoke.
The facility processes laundry for several area hotels.
“They saved this building,” manager Donna Grindle said of her husband, David, who is a volunteer firefighter in the town of Columbia, and Ray Giger. The two worked together to turn off electricity and gas to the facility, use a fire extinguisher on the machine, evacuate the building and call the fire department.
When an engine, a ladder truck and an ambulance from the Bar Harbor Fire Department arrived a few minutes later, smoke was still coming out of the vents, Assistant Chief John Lennon said. Because there was so much smoke, firefighters prepared for a much bigger fire. “We ran a hose from the hydrant at the corner of Route 3 and the Crooked Road,” Lennon said, “but we didn’t need to use it.” Firefighters helped ventilate the smoke and made sure the fire had not spread into the attic.
Employees fondly call the mangle machine, which is used to press and fold laundry, “the mangler” after the Stephen King short story about a laundry machine possessed by a demon. King has said in speeches that he once held a job in an industrial laundry.
“The belts on the machine are made of the same material fire hoses are made of,” David Grindle said. “Flames came out of the top of the machine where the propane is and burned the sheet that was in there, but the belts are fine.”
Work at the laundry resumed later that morning. “The mangler” is out of commission, but there is no major damage from the fire or the smoke. “We all still have a job,” Donna Grindle said.
The laundry is part of Witham Family Properties.