Wiscasset Agway was once located near the railroad tracks on the shore of the Sheepscot River on the Red’s Eats side of Route 1. The reason it is no longer there should be self-evident from the picture: An absolutely massive fire on June 27, 1969 completely destroyed the building in a matter of hours.

According to the Coastal Journal story, the fire started around 4:30 p.m. due to a carelessly discarded cigarette at the gas pumps.

It was noticed by an employee – unnamed in the story – who rushed to shut off the large oil and gasoline pumps to prevent a larger fire. But the fire grew so fast, the man had to jump into the river to escape the blaze.

The intensity and size of the fire was tremendous; over 100 firefighters from six towns rushed to contain and prevent it from spreading. The fire was reportedly so hot that it “melted windshields off boats stored across Route 1, and it melted the rear lights off automobiles, also a street light.”

Despite the heat and size of the blaze, the fire was contained to the building, and no deaths were reported. The employee’s efforts to shut off the gas pumps apparently helped, as two massive tanks of fuel didn’t catch fire.
The owners, Dan and Dot Ames, decided to keep at it and reopened in a small freight shed farther up the railroad tracks.

Their business was passed on to their children, and continues to this day: You know it as Ames True Value Hardware and Supply on Route 1.

Wayne Averill is one of their grandsons, and co-owns the current business with his two brothers. He still remembers the night the fire occurred.

“I just remember getting the call that Saturday night and my mother leaving. And we could see smoke from way up the river,” said Averill. “I was only seven at the time.”

The only signs of the building that remain today are a few pilings where the fuel tanks were. “Where those picnic tables of Red’s Eats are is where the building was,” said Averill.
His grandfather sold the land and kept going despite the loss of his whole business. “He always was just a fighter,” said Averill.

Still, he can’t help but wonder what might have been if the fire never happened.

“It’d be interesting to know what would have happened if it continued on (in that location),” said Averill. “If that didn’t happen, would this (store) have happened?”

Special thanks to the Patten Free Library’s Sagadahoc History and Genealogy Room for assistance. Early editions of the Coastal Journal are preserved on microfiche and archived at the library. To our knowledge, no print copies exist before July 1969.