Mallard Mart owner says he’ll rebuild

FIRE — The metal roof on the Mallard Mart in Waterford, as shown, held the fire inside and allowed it to build, said owner Ed Michaud. By the time the first firefighters arrived to the Feb. 21 fire, the inside walls were aflame. The store was insured, and Michaud said he hopes to rebuild and be open by this summer. (Gulbrandsen Photo)

FIRE — The metal roof on the Mallard Mart in Waterford, as shown, held the fire inside and allowed it to build, said owner Ed Michaud. By the time the first firefighters arrived to the Feb. 21 fire, the inside walls were aflame. The store was insured, and Michaud said he hopes to rebuild and be open by this summer. (Gulbrandsen Photo)

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

NORTH WATERFORD — An old light fixture in a service bay is suspected for causing a fire Feb. 21 that destroyed the Mallard Mart on Route 118 in Waterford. Firefighters from six towns spent three hours putting out the fire, and were hampered in their efforts by the store’s metal roof, which held flames in and allowed the fire to build, according to storeowner Ed Michaud.

Michaud said he and several of his employees were meeting with vendor company representatives inside the store when the smoke detector went off at around 10 a.m. They went out back to investigate, and saw smoke billowed near the ceiling. They ran outside, and could see smoke coming from the upstairs apartment.

“A lot of (the fire) was burning above us and we didn’t even know it,” Michaud said, noting that the store’s metal roof held in the fire and allowed it to build in intensity. The building dates back to the 1930s and has had around five or six separate additions over the years.

Waterford firefighters arrived within minutes to find the inside walls aflame. They were soon joined by ladder trucks from Paris and Oxford. Stoneham, Harrison and Norway Fire Departments also helped to knock down the fire.

“The response was great, and they were great,” Michaud said of the firefighters. Soon after arriving, Waterford Assistant Fire Chief Tom Murch came over to Michaud, and put a dime in his hand.

“He said, ‘I found this on the ground, I think you’re going to need it’,” said Michaud, who took over the former Kosi’s Market at the corner of Route 118 and 35 three and a half years ago and renamed it Mallard Mart. Michaud, who also owns Mallard Marts in Bethel and Norway, lost everything in the fire, but both contents and building were insured, he said.

“We’re very hopeful that we can rebuild, but so much depends on the insurance company,” Michaud said. The investigator from the state Fire Marshal’s Office who was on the scene Thursday and Friday has made a preliminary determination that the fire was caused by a malfunctioning light fixture in one of the service bays, he said. The insurance settlement will have to wait until a final determination is made on the cause of the fire.

Representatives from the American Red Cross and Salvation Army were on hand to assist the upstairs tenant, who lost everything in the fire, Michaud said. The tenant was at work when the fire broke out.

“We’re very fortunate that no one was hurt,” Michaud said. There were early concerns about the gas pumps out front, but the automatic pump shutdown switches kicked in as they were designed to do in case of a fire, he said.

Michaud said he realizes many of his regular customers will be missing being able to stop at the store for gas; his store had the only gas pumps for miles around.

“We’ll take it down as soon as we’re allowed to, and hopefully we’ll be back in operation. Before summer would be nice,” he said.

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