BROOKS, ME — A dairy barn converted to manufacture Baldwin Apple Ladders, used by apple orchard pickers around the country for more than 20 years, was destroyed in a fire yesterday.

Fire Consumes Specialty Wood Ladder BusinessIn addition to the 6,500-square-foot building, the fire destroyed equipment and a one-year inventory of wooden ladders, according to the Bangor Daily News. Peter Baldwin, owner of Baldwin Apple Ladders, reportedly told fire investigators that his shop had experienced electrical problems earlier in the evening.

According to the company's website, Baldwin Apple Ladders was started 23 years ago. The rectangular rails of the up to 20-foot tall ladders are made with big-tooth ash and the rungs are made of ash. The company produced up to 1,200 of the ladders annually for exclusive use by commercial orchards.

Brown told the Bangor Daily News that he was uncertain if he would rebuild his business, which was only partially insured. A representative of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association is heading up a fund raising drive to support potential rebuilding efforts.

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