Firefighters battle a fire Feb. 2, at the production facility for Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream at 25 Hathaway St. in Skowhegan. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

SKOWHEGAN — Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream announced Tuesday the company is unable to make any ice cream at its Skowhegan production plant because of damage sustained in a fire earlier this month.

The Office of Maine State Fire Marshal has ruled the cause of the Feb. 2 fire, which originated in the facility’s processing room, as accidental. Skowhegan Fire Chief Ronnie Rodriguez said at the time the fire began because a heat gun left was left on while atop a pallet of combustible material in a walk-in freezer.

Lauren Healy, a Gifford’s spokesperson, confirmed the ice cream production problems in a news release but was unable to say Tuesday when the company expects production to restart. Healy said the company has a business continuity plan and is exploring temporary production alternatives, but could not yet say what those might be.

Healy said once a crew cleans up the damaged production area, Gifford’s will undertake a series of repairs to the building and ice-cream-making equipment.

It is unclear how much those repairs will cost, and how much the company will lose in revenue until its production plant is back up and running.

Healy said all the facility’s workers are “staying on board” until production begins again. All 36 people who were inside the plant when the fire started made it out safely, she said.

“This has been an extremely emotional time for our family, but we wouldn’t be where we are now without the support of our community, customers, partners and family members,” said Lindsay Skilling, Gifford’s CEO, in the news release.

Skilling the company is looking forward to “getting back up and running as soon as possible.”

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