NEW VINEYARD — Residents were relieved Tuesday to learn that a fire at Maine Wood Turning Inc. sawmill the day before will close the community’s only significant employer for only two days.

“We’re always rooting for (the company) because when it’s the only employment in town, you don’t want to see anybody lose their jobs,” Town Clerk Arlene Davis said Tuesday.

All 15 employees will return to the sawmill, which supports another 55 jobs at Maine Wood Concepts’ primary manufacturing plant in town. The sawmill’s wood is used to make the company’s products, which are sold nationwide.

Brothers Douglas, Jody and Gerald Fletcher took over the sawmill nearly two decades ago from their father, Wayne, who started the business in 1971.

The Fletchers have always relied on community support to stay afloat during tough times, Douglas Fletcher, 57, said Tuesday.

“We’ve had a lot of people contacting us, wanting to know if there is anything they can do to help,” he said. “It goes a long ways to encourage you to keep going and to make the business work here.”

News of the fire didn’t take long to circulate through town, with some residents even driving to the scene to help shortly after sawmill workers discovered the fire around 1 p.m.

Fire departments from nine towns in Franklin County sent dozens of emergency responders and a fleet of trucks and other equipment to the blaze, according to Douglas Churchill, New Vineyard fire chief.

Sawmill employees were evacuated and no injuries were reported, Churchill said.

The fire and smoke left a section of the building significantly damaged, but none of the company’s major equipment was harmed, Fletcher said Tuesday.

Some of the sawmill workers stayed late Monday night to help clean up the scene. E.L Vining & Son, a construction company from Farmington, donated floodlights, he said.

He praised emergency responders, his workers and community members for helping the company. He described it as a team effort that saved vital equipment and limited the damage to the building.

“It took a combined effort for it to turn out the way it did,” he said.

The company plans to shut down and repair the damaged section while continuing to operate in other parts of the building. Insurance company officials are still looking into what caused the fire, he said.

Davis said he didn’t know how much the company paid in taxes, calling it the biggest contributor to the town in both tax revenue and employment.

People from neighboring towns also rely on jobs from the mill and the plant, so the financial effect of losing the company would have devastated the town and surrounding communities, she said.

“It’s a big family around here,” she said.

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer David Robinson can be reached at 861-9287 or at: [email protected]