MOUNT VERNON — After a fire, what’s left is blackened debris, the penetrating smell of smoke and loss.

After the hoses have been coiled and the fire trucks are back in their bays, there is silence and waiting. And sometimes in that void, there is help, and there is hope.

A week after Dill Road workshop of Barn Boards and More caught fire, Amy Grant-Trefethen and Brett Trefethen are in that in-between time, taking stock and waiting to hear from their insurance company, and letting customers know that delivery of furniture they’ve ordered will be delayed.

But they are also hearing from friends and colleagues, with offers of help, food and tools, and cash via a gofundme campaign to cover what insurance may not.

“It’s been very overwhelming,” Amy Grant-Trefethen said Thursday at the workshop. “But we have amazing, amazing friends that are in similar trades. Our friend Mike Wiltse works at Reynolds Custom Cabinets — he dropped off all his personal tools at our Gardiner store.”

The fire ignited in the early hours of Oct. 4, apparently in the ceiling of the metal building that houses the workshop, paint room and wood storage for the business. It had been smoldering for several hours when Grant-Trefethen pulled into the driveway, just down the road from their home, around 7 a.m., and saw smoke billowing from the back of the building.

The first firefighters started arriving moments after Trefethen called 911.

Mount Vernon fire Chief Dana Dunn contacted the Office of State Fire Marshal to investigate because the fire broke out at a business. The cause, he said, couldn’t be determined.

For the last 11 years, the Trefethens, both fans of old barns, have built their business around salvaging barns and recycling the wood for furniture that Grant-Trefethen has built in their Mount Vernon workshop, or selling it and architectural salvage to others.

After leasing spaces in downtowns of Hallowell and Gardiner, the company’s retail operation has found a home at 521 Water St. in Gardiner, in a warehouse that has space both for furniture display and architectural salvage.

The melted plastic blade guard on a chop saw is seen Thursday at the fire-damaged Barn Boards and More workshop in Mount Vernon. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

But the workshop remained in Mount Vernon on a property next to their home, which they initially leased, then bought from a neighbor. The building housed a kennel at one time but has been where furniture for commercial spaces and people’s homes has been built.

“It’s weird because that’s my wood rack over there,” Grant-Trefethen said, pointing to the left side of the darkened workshop. “The wood is still there. And over here, where all of my tools were — gone. Like everything. It’s just melted piles of nothing. The insurance guy was like, ‘What is this?’ I said I could tell you what it used to be.”

They had just upgraded to a new table saw and a dust collection system that were lost, but the biggest hit were the older tools and hardware that Grant-Trefethen had inherited from her father and used regularly.

“I had always made my little contractor saw work for me, and it certainly doesn’t owe me anything, but that little saw probably made 300 tables,” she said.

As news of the fire started circulating, the offers of help started flowing in.

While they’re waiting for word from their insurance companies, they are setting up a makeshift workshop in the overflow storage space in Gardiner that currently holds architectural salvage. They’ve scheduled a sale for this weekend to help clear that space.

Grant-Trefethen said they’ve sent out emails to customers whose orders are due now to let them know what happened and to assure them their orders will be completed.

“I told them we’d be in touch individually, because right now, I can’t tell them a time frame or anything,” she said.

The Trefethens say they’ll wait to hear from the insurance company before deciding if they will rebuild in Mount Vernon or whether the workshop will move permanently to Gardiner.

“It’s weird to do salvage on your own salvage company,” Brett Trefethen said.

“We have employees, and it’s important for us to keep them working,” Grant-Trefethen said. “We’re going to keep going. We don’t really have a choice. This is our livelihood.”


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