Drivers and bystanders ogled as the former Huber’s Market, on Route 1 in Wiscasset, went up in flames during a training exercise for local fire departments Sunday, Aug. 4.
The site will become part of the parking lot for the new Dollar General store, according to Wiscasset Fire Chief T.J. Merry.
The Wiscasset Planning Board approved plans for the new store in March. At the time, a representative of the developer said construction would start in June and be complete by late September or early October.
“This building needed to go away, so we’re taking it away for them,” Merry said.
He approached the general contractor for the Dollar General project about using the circa-1960 building for a “live burn” training exercise. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection had to approve the burn, he said.
The Wiscasset Fire Department ran the live burn, while the Alna, Dresden, Edgecomb, and Woolwich departments also participated. In total, Merry thought about 40 firefighters were present.
Wiscasset “couldn’t just do it by ourselves” because the adjacent Ship’s Chow Hall building is so close, Merry said. Firefighters kept Ship’s Chow Hall wet so it would not catch fire.
According to Merry, the exercise allowed firefighters to complete aerial, hose, and pumper training.
Firefighters assembled at the former convenience store and deli at 7:15 a.m. to set up. Any useful or valuable items were salvaged from the building.
In just a few short hours, the yellow building had nearly burned to the foundation. A few cones and a makeshift speed bump were put out to slow drivers, contributing to traffic congestion.
An excavator was used to push down the remaining pieces of the walls near the end of the burn.
Huber’s Market was long known for its Italian sandwiches and pizza. The late Gordon Huber owned and operated the business for more than 40 years.
After a few changes in ownership and closures, Tina Fitzsimmons bought the building in 2013 and took over operations with her partner, Lenny Santos, in 2015. They closed it again in April 2018.
Fitzsimmons also owns Ship’s Chow Hall, which is for sale. The property is available for $164,900 with 1 acre or $219,000 with 7.07 acres, according to mainelistings.com.
“It’s kind of sad to see it go. Most of us worked here as kids,” Merry said of Huber’s Market, but he agreed it was a good send-off for the building.