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  • Don Himsel photo

    Investigators work the scene of an industrial fire at 8 Manhattan Drive in Amherst. Two fires struck the plant in three days, and fire officials say the first fire was electrical and they will continue to investigate the cause of the second, which occurred Saturday morning.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    The second fire at 8 Manhattan Drive in Amherst has closed businesses.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Damage and debris at 8 Manhattan Drive in Amherst Monday, February 6, 2012
Tuesday, February 7, 2012

2 fires at Amherst site in 3 days puzzling

AMHERST – Fire officials have part of the answer as to why fire struck an industrial building twice in three days.

Early Thursday morning, fire damaged a small section of the plant on Manhattan Drive. Early Saturday, a larger blaze destroyed much more of the building – roughly a third of the 26,000-square-foot facility that houses three businesses.

Amherst Fire Chief Mark Boynton said he and investigators from the state fire marshal’s office determined the first fire was electrical and started in a utility area.

State fire officials will continue to sift through debris to determine the cause of the second fire, said the chief, “but we do not believe the Saturday morning fire was a continuation” of the first fire. He would not speculate on the possible cause of the second fire.

The Bread Chef, a commercial bakery adjacent to the utility area, is a total loss, said owner Gilbert Vidal. He said the future of his business is unclear.

On Thursday morning, fire damaged a roughly 5- by 15-foot section of the complex.

On Saturday, a much larger part, including the Bread Chef area and the production area for Poly-Ject, a 30-year-old plastics injection molding firm, was destroyed. A third section that housed a Cold Stone Creamery office and a vacant section are intact but might have some smoke damage.

Larry Thibeault, who owns Poly-Ject with his son Steven, reportedly said he will rebuild.

The complex is off Caldwell Drive, near Gymnastics Village.