Firefighters work to fully extinguish the blaze that destroyed a sheep barn and a cattle shed, each about 150 long and 30 to 50 feet wide, and damaged six other buildings Tuesday evening at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds. The fire chief estimated the damage at $500,000. No people or animals were injured.

An accidental electrical malfunction is believed to have caused the fire that destroyed two large buildings and damaged six others Tuesday at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds, a state fire investigator said.

Sgt. Ken Grimes, a fire investigation supervisor with the State Fire Marshal’s Office, said Wednesday that witness interviews led his team to the area where the blaze originated in an electrical subpanel next to a bank of light switches in a sheep barn.

“There was extensive damage, as you can imagine,” he said. “The building was down on the ground. We were able to locate an area of origin based on witness interviews. That pointed us in a direction and we were able to establish the electrical malfunction once we located that area.”

Firefighters hose down what’s left of a building that burned Tuesday evening at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds.

Grimes said investigators were lucky that people were working at the fairgrounds getting ready for the next season, “so there was a lot of people for us to talk to.”

The fire was reported to the Fryeburg Fire Department at around 7 p.m. Tuesday, and firefighters arrived to find a sheep barn engulfed in flames. The fire spread to an adjacent cattle shed, and both buildings were destroyed. Each was 150 feet long and 30 to 50 feet wide. No people or animals were injured.

More than 20 departments helped contain the blaze, and it was brought under control by about 9 p.m. East Conway’s fire department wrote on Facebook that a “quick response from many mutual aid departments and strong command got this incident under control quickly.”

Fire Chief Andrew Dufresne estimated damages to be about $500,000.

The Fryeburg Fair is held annually in late September and early October, and Dufresne said he expects the destroyed structures will be rebuilt in time for this year’s event.

“It’s a very important place for the residents here, as well as visitors who come here,” he said. “It’s definitely a loss that hits close to the heart, but the good news is that no one was injured.”

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

[email protected] herald.com

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