Fire injures employee, causes $150K in damage to downtown Bath business

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BATH — One man was injured and a business and adjacent building sustained damage totalling about $150,000 in a fire Tuesday afternoon.

The blaze, reported at 12:18 p.m., broke out at RVI, 735 Middle St. Roger Love, an RVI employee from Bath, received second- and third-degree burns and was taken to Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, Fire Chief Steve Hinds said.

“When we swung the corner, going down over the hill, you could tell the building was on fire, from right here,” Hinds said Tuesday at the High Street fire station. “When we pulled up, (Love) was laying on the ground, burned. … Fire was (coming) out of the garage doors … out the side door … and out the front door.”

The building is also connected by a walkway to a 2 1/2-story apartment house used by RVI for office and storage space, Hinds noted.

“And that had smoke and fire blowing out through the top,” he said.

“This was a major-league fire in the downtown,” Hinds said, noting that Route 1 into and out of the center of the city was shut down during the fire.

Firefighters from West Bath, Topsham and Brunswick helped Bath extinguish the blaze. They left the scene at 3:40 p.m.

Hinds said Love had been working on an ATV in RVI’s garage, draining fuel out of an air box. When he started the machine, it backfired, causing fuel that had escaped into the air to ignite. Love was burned on a foot and leg, both hands and arms, and had minor burns on his face.

“RVI needs extensive work,” the chief said. “The shell is still up, the roof is still on it, one section of roof is burned off – in the rear, the garage area – but the showroom area is intact, and we’ve got salvage covers … to cover as much of the product as we could.”

“(RVI is) going to be a while fixing that up, to be back in there,” he added, noting that the owner, Bill King Sr., does plan to do just that. “… The building is viable.”

The adjacent building needs new windows and wallboard, Hinds said. The connector between the two buildings needs a new window and ceiling.

RVI sell motorcycle  and recreation vehicle helmets, and parts and accessories for motorcycles, ATVs, dirt bikes and snowmobiles. The business was established in West Bath in 1972 and moved to Bath three years later.

“It’s been kind of a cornerstone business,” Hinds said.

King could not be reached for comment.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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The scene Wednesday morning after fire spread Tuesday through RVI, also known as The Helmet House, a small business at 735 Middle Street in Bath. One man was injured in the blaze.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.