Fire caused extensive damage Wednesday evening to a building and its contents at the Madison Electric Works substation on Jones Street in Madison. The building houses a backup diesel generator.

MADISON — The building that houses the backup generator for Madison Electric Works caught fire Wednesday evening, causing extensive damage to the structure and equipment and forcing the utility to shut off power to about 2,500 customers.

Chief Don French of the Madison Fire Department said Thursday crews responded to the Jones Street substation just before 6 p.m. Wednesday. When firefighters arrived, the 40-by-60-foot building was fully ablaze.

“By the time I got on scene, Madison Electric already had somebody on scene,” French said. “He was working to get the power de-energized so that we could get in and fight the fire.

“It was a very rapid response. Within five to 10 minutes, the power was de-energized and we attacked the fire.”

The damaged building houses a generator that operates when demand for power is high, French said, adding the generator likely turned on because of an increase in demand from community members using air conditioners Wednesday, when temperatures reached the 80s.

French said while the generator was damaged badly, flames did not reach Madison Electric Works’ main production and distribution system.

The cause of the fire was not known Thursday, according to French, and an investigator from the Office of State Marshal had been called to the scene.

Flames cause extensive damage Wednesday evening to the building that houses a backup diesel generator at the Madison Electric Works substation on Jones Street in Madison.

Martin Berry, superintendent at Madison Electric Works, said 2,500 customers were without power for about three hours Wednesday while firefighters fought the blaze.

“We don’t know for sure how or what caught fire,” Berry said, “but it did not damage any of our equipment that provides electricity.”

Berry said the diesel generator kicks in to reduce demand on Madison Electric Works’ main system.

Berry said that while the backup generator is out of commission, Madison Electric will buy power from an outside source, if needed.

Firefighters from Madison, Anson and Starks responded to the blaze.

One firefighter was taken to Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan to be treated for heat exhaustion. He was released later Wednesday. No other injuries were reported, French said.

“It was a substantial loss, worth a lot of money,” French said. “Everything went well, and I am very impressed with Madison Electric getting there quickly. Everyone did their jobs very well.”

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