Part of a sawmill and forest products operation was destroyed by fire Friday afternoon, although an adjacent residence and other nearby structures were spared in what the local fire chief termed a “good save.”

The fire was at 165 Hall Hill Road, on property owned by Ken Theobald. Brooks Fire Chief Jeff Archer said that in addition to Theobald’s residence, the location is also home to Lexington Outdoors, a business that both Theobald and Theobald’s son are involved with.

The fire, which destroyed a large, portable garage-type structure — one consisting of a series of hoop frames with a covering stretched over them — was first called in around 4:10 p.m., according to a dispatcher at the Waldo County Regional Communications Center.

Archer said most of the employees at the business had just left for the day shortly before the fire broke out. He said someone noticed smoke and reported the fire, but by the time firefighters arrived on scene the fire — helped by a strong breeze — had reached a small fuel tank, which ignited and in turn caught the structure on fire.

Because of the damage done and the impact of that damage on the business — Archer said the approximately 15-foot by 60-foot structure was a total loss — the State Fire Marshal’s Office was contacted, and investigator Kenneth MacMaster responded to the scene.

A forest ranger was also called in, Archer said, for two reasons — because the fire spread into the nearby woods for a time, and also because the business that was involved works with wood and forestry-related products.

Archer said Friday night that although the fire remained under investigation, it appeared that the fire may have started somewhere above the sawmill in a debris pile. Once the fire itself had been knocked down, firefighters worked at extinguishing hot spots that were found in similar debris piles at the scene.

Theobald used a backhoe to help dismantle the debris piles and spread out the material, Archer said, so that firefighters could more effectively extinguish the hot spots in those piles.

Two other structures similar to the one that burned (though smaller in size) were not damaged by the fire, Archer said, and the house also escaped damage. Archer said the wind conditions had firefighters worried for a time that the house might also catch fire, and the fact that firefighters were able to prevent that from happening prompted him to call their efforts a “good save.”

The wind prompted a number of flareups after the initial fire was dealt with, and around 9 p.m. Friday Archer said firefighters had just gone back to the scene to extinguish one such flareup.

Archer said the Theobalds “did lose a substantial amount of equipment,” and said he did not know how much product they had lost due to the fire. He said the business was insured.

According to information in a section of the Maine state Web site, Lexington Outdoors “buys wood logs approximately four feet long and measuring between five to ten inches in diameter. Using machines such as band saws, chainsaws, wood chippers, edgers and sanders, [Lexington Outdoors] turns the logs into wood chips, chunks, grilling planks, smoking logs, and smoking dust for sale to restaurants and retailers.”

Although the Lexington Outdoors Web site lists a contact address in the Washington County town of Robbinston, one part of the company — Maine Grilling Woods — is specifically identified as being based in Brooks:

“Maine Grilling Woods are produced and packaged in Brooks, Maine, at the family farmstead using wood harvested by hand by local woodcutters and farmers,” the Web site states. “Our wood comes fresh from the many small woodlots and family farms in the nearby rural areas of coastal and central Maine. The wood is then sawn, chunked, chipped, dried, packaged and shipped out right from the farm daily to restaurant, food service and retail customers in all 50 states and Canada.”

No one was injured in Friday’s fire, Archer said, though the temperatures at the scene prompted a call for additional firefighters in order to give other firefighters a break. Fire crews and trucks from Brooks, Thorndike, Jackson, Monroe, Waldo, Belfast, Morrill and Freedom responded to the scene, as did two ambulances from Brooks. Archer estimated there were somewhere between 50 and 60 firefighters who responded to the scene.