On July 4th, Millennium Marine celebrated the grand opening of its boatshop in Eastport, Maine. After building boats for nearly 70 years in Escuminac, New Brunswick (first under the name Guimond Boats), the boatyard’s owner, Cory Guimond, shifted the company’s operations just over the border.
Fourteen people were on the payroll, and the owners anticipated they would employ 30 by the end of the year. The yard had two fiberglass 49-feet 11-inch boats under construction for West Coast fishermen.
Then Wednesday, July 23, at about 12:30 a.m., a fire started in the bow of one of the boats. The damage wasn’t discovered until 6:30. Fortunately, the building’s sprinkler system extinguished the fire, but not before one and possibly both boats were destroyed, and the shop suffered smoke and water damage.
The fire consumed the bow of one boat, and the sprinkler system filled up the second boat with water. The water’s weight caused the boat to fall over on its side. “The stands couldn’t hold it. The crash was so intense the building shook,” says the boatyard’s John Miller.
Though without the sprinkler system, “the whole building would have gone up,” adds Miller. The sprinkler system not only saved the building but the molds for building fiberglass hulls, as well.
“I would never ever dream of going back to a building without a sprinkling system,” Guimond says.
The fire started in a trash bucket in the bow of the boat that burned. The fire inspectors “deemed it to be caused by catalyst or chemicals that had a reaction and spontaneous combustion,” says Guimond. “The guys were doing a clean up and put materials and dust in a bucket, and that’s exactly where the fire started.”
Miller anticipates the insurance company will allow the two boats to be removed the last week in July and though the shop crew is currently doing some limited fiberglass work, the earliest Millennium Marine will be back to building boats will be the first week in August.
In the meantime, the yard’s crew has “been scrubbing every inch of the building, from top to bottom,” says Miller. On July 28, he said it was “pretty much back in order.”