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No injuries were reported but much of the building was destroyed, according to reports.
“I’m just so happy that everyone’s OK. Thank our lucky stars and the man upstairs,” Kristen Goodhart of nearby Farmington, whose son works at the mill, told WCSH-TV of Portland.
WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE
The blast was considered a significant blow to the state’s paper industry, which had already been suffering the effects of the coronavirus shutdown, as well as a consolidation that saw five other mills close between 2014 and 2016, the Bangor Daily News reported.
Wednesday’s explosion also caught the attention of horror author and native Mainer Stephen King, who posted a Twitter message in reaction.
“A paper mill blew up in Jay, Maine today, not too far down the road from us,” King wrote. “A TOILET paper mill. So keep a stack of magazines and advertising circulars handy.”
The structure, known as the Androscoggin Mill, employs 500 people and is the second-largest employer in Franklin County, according to the Daily News. The owner, Pixelle Specialty Solutions of Pennsylvania, wouldn’t know until Thursday the earliest whether the mill can be partially reopened to resume production, a company official told the newspaper.
“We don’t know yet what the future may bring for the Androscoggin Mill,” Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat who lives in Farmington, said at a news conference. “That will come more fully into view in the coming days.”
The blast caused a fire that drew a response from seven fire departments, WCSH reported.