An overheated bearing in a piece of machinery sparked a fire Friday night in a building that holds wood chips at the Sappi paper mill in Westbrook.

The fire, which was reported shortly before 7 p.m., spread from the machine – which drives a conveyor belt and chip elevator – but not to the structure itself, said Westbrook Fire Capt. Chris Sheppard. Some chips burned and the fire grew to a four-alarm blaze briefly before it was brought under control, he said.

Sheppard said three firefighters were taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

The fire was reported under control by 9 p.m., and by 10 p.m., all the firefighters had returned to their stations.

Sheppard said he had no estimate of the amount of damage caused by the fire, but he said it could have been substantial.

“There are hundreds of tons of wood chips in there,” he said.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

emurphy@pressherald.com