SKOWHEGAN — Business is back up and running at Folsoms Auto Sales, Service & Salvage after an accidental fire last week tore through the longtime, family-owned business and caused heavy damage.

On Wednesday, owner David Folsom said a temporary office has been set up to get business moving and that all services except for repair work are offered. The yard sits on 40 acres, with 1,500 cars and trucks on the property for parts.

“We’re getting there, we’ve got our temporary office all set up and our computers are going,” Folsom said. “We’re stable to do the salvage yard stuff now, selling used parts.”

On Feb. 1, multiple agencies responded to a fire at 232 Rowe Road just before 10 a.m., Skowhegan Fire Chief Shawn Howard said at the time of the blaze. Additional alarms were sounded because of the location of the fire and the potential for it to get worse because of the vehicles inside of the garage as well as the proximity of nearby water supplies.

“With the large fuel load and the size of the building, we went to a third alarm very early to make sure that we had adequate water supply because we’re well outside of the hydro district,” Howard said.

No injuries were reported in the blaze; eight occupants were in the building when the fire broke out  in the back of the building, including Folsom’s 10-month-old child. Plans to mobilize and rebuild the business back up began hours after the blaze.

Folsom said that over the weekend, a crew of about 15 volunteers met at the garage with machinery to help clean up the scrap metal left.

“We’re OK, we’re getting there,” Folsom said. “We’re taking it one day at a time. We had a crew of volunteers show up on Saturday and we got a lot done. We had excavators, dump trucks, bulldozers and tractors and we got pretty much all of the scrap metal and charred wood picked up and taken care of.”

Bobbi Folsom works in her temporary accounting office Wednesday as her daughter, Ella, 10 months, stands nearby at Folsom’s Auto Sales, Service and Salvage. The business suffered heavy damage in a three-alarm fire that destroyed a building on Feb. 1. The offices and other components of the business are now housed at a trailer that was relocated to the business. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Last week, Folsom’s wife and co-owner Bobbi Folsom said that several businesses in town have stepped up and offered help to get the business back up and running. Since the fire, friends of the couple have offered a trailer that is now being used as a temporary office space.

“We’ve had people donating stuff all the time,” Bobbi Folsom said. “There’s a big group of people just wanting to help.”

She added that Bangor Savings Bank offered to assist with meals; another business donated brand new office chairs to set up.

For now, David Folsom said that himself, his wife, two office workers and two mechanics are back to work while three are out because of the fire. Damages include over $150,000 in tools and equipment that were destroyed; Folsom said that insurance only covers the replacement of the building and him and his wife have tried to help the employees who lost their own equipment as much as possible.

“The building is a total loss, we lost basically everything inside. All of our tools, the only thing we were able to save was office stuff,” David Folsom said. “The problem is the tools were basically all burnt and I didn’t have content insurance on the building, the only insurance I had was to replace the building.”

He added that he wrote checks to his employees who lost equipment in the fire.

“I cut them all checks to replace as much of their tools as I can right now,” David Folsom said.

The aftermath of three-alarm fire is shown Wednesday at Folsom’s Auto Sales, Service and Salvage. The Skowhegan business suffered heavy damage in a three-alarm fire that destroyed a building on Feb. 1. The offices and other components of the business are now housed at a trailer that was relocated to the business. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

When the flames broke out last week, Bobbi Folsom said that her husband, his brother and another employee worked fast to get machinery out as well as office equipment, including four computers, desk drawers containing tax documents, a payroll binder and bills to be paid.

“They thought real quick and they were able to get all that stuff out. That’s really a blessing in disguise,” Bobbi Folsom said.

The Folsom’s business was originally opened in 1967 by Richard Folsom; ownership changed in 1984 when it was purchased by David Folsom, Folsom’s father, in 1984. In 2018, David Folsom sold the business to his son, David Folsom II and wife Bobbi Folsom.

The couple also owns rental properties in town and Mr. Bubbles Laundromat.

Upon purchasing the business, the couple restored the original garage into a large storage building. The structure that burned on Feb. 1 was attached to this garage and built in 2003.

A GoFundMe has also been created by an employee.

“Many of you know the Folsom family from having been a big part of the community since the garage was first opened in 1967,” Justin Boulette wrote in the description. “Now is our turn to give back to a family that has done so much for us through the years. The business did have insurance, but that only helps so much. 10s of 1000s of dollars in tools and equipment will not be covered and will need to be replaced in order to get back full operations. I am creating this fund raiser to show the Folsom family how much the community cares and appreciates everything they have done through the years.”

By Wednesday afternoon, over $4,300 had been raised. A link to the GoFundMe can be found on Folsoms Auto Sales, Service and Salvage’s Facebook page.

For now, the couple says they plan to rebuild a steel building to replace the one that burned. David Folsom estimates that construction will start sometime in late spring.

“We’ve always been a salvage yard and we also do repair work sales and towing, the only thing we can’t do now is the repair work because we don’t have the facilities to do it now,” Folsom said. “We’re still able to sell used parts and we’re still towing.”

The fire generated a significant response, including Skowhegan and Maine State Police; firefighters from Skowhegan, Anson, Athens, Canaan, Fairfield, Madison, Norridgewock, Oakland, Solon and Waterville; Redington-Fairview General Hospital Emergency Service; A&M Emergency Services; and the Skowhegan Highway Department.

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