SKOWHEGAN — A wind-whipped grass fire outside a planned indoor marijuana grow operation on Middle Road ignited a pile of old tires Monday, sending black smoke high into the sky and raising questions about whether such a facility would be allowed in town.
Fire crews from Skowhegan, Norridgewock and Fairfield, along with Maine forest rangers, responded to the fire, reported just after 11 a.m. at the former Fox Den dance hall, which straddles the Skowhegan/Fairfield town line. Crews from Canaan and Clinton also were dispatched to cover local fire stations.
The fire burned just under 2 acres of grass, about 1.5 miles south west of the Sappi North America paper mill.
Peter Picardi, 37, of Skowhegan, said he is interested in starting a grow operation inside the former dance hall, first as a medical marijuana facility and hopefully for recreational cannabis later once state rules for selling pot are adopted.
“It’s not going to be open to the public,” Picardi said from the yard, still smoky from the fire Monday morning. “It’s just going to be a wholesale production facility.