BANGOR, MAINE – The people of Maine collectively held their breath for a few hours Wednesday as shocking video of the massive explosion at a paper mill in Jay, a town in the western corner of the state, circulated on social media. The mill, which employs about 500 people, is a major driver of the regional economy. Not long after the explosion, Maine author Stephen King took to Twitter to crack a joke about the explosion.
Some Mainers were not impressed that King would use the explosion and potential loss of hundreds of jobs as Maine struggles, as a subject to grab retweets and attention on social media.
“A paper mill blew up in Jay, Maine today, not too far down the road from us. A TOILET paper mill,” tweeted King. “So keep a stack of magazines and advertising circulars handy.”
A cursory review of Pixelle Specialty Solutions’ website does not back up King’s claim that the mill makes toilet paper. Some of the responses to King’s tweet show people think he is ‘full of it’ for the tweet.
Ryan Lagasse calls King out for making light of workers losing their jobs in a struggling state. “Classy.”
“Gross,” says @TheCountyGuy_ME:
Well known local radio show host Mike Violette chimed in:
@cathandler says they’ll put some of King’s novels to good use then:
ca$h told King about the real human toll of the explosion:
Kayla Meserve was having none of it:
Nor was @stace1998L:
So far, it is unclear if the mill will be able to partially restart and put some of the 500 workers in this town of less than 5,000 people back to work.
The last two weeks have been especially difficult for Maine people, with the current stay at home order shutting down large parts of the Maine economy, Mainers have also dealt with a serious snowstorm that knocked out power to more than 200,000 homes, followed soon after by a wind storm that knocked out power to tens of thousands more.
The loss of hundreds of good jobs in this charming, rural stretch of Maine will have a ripple effect out to thousands more jobs that provide support and sell products to those who worked at the mill.
On Twitter, King is known for direct attacks on those who do not hew to his liberal worldview, with high profile Republicans serving as his favorite targets. King routinely tweets attacks on President Donald Trump.
Governor Janet Mills struck a somber tone in response to the news, saying, “Today, an explosion rocked the Androscoggin Mill in Jay, sending plumes of smoke and debris into the sky. Let us be grateful that this explosion did not take any lives and tomorrow be ready to meet whatever challenges may come with open eyes, steady hands, and hopeful hearts.”
Former Governor Paul LePage and First Lady Ann LePage also offered comforting words for those affected: