Sept. 19--PORTLAND -- Firefighters and clean-up companies spent Thursday morning mopping up from a three-alarm blaze in the Old Port that displaced several businesses and residents indefinitely.
The fire was reported at about 1:30 a.m. Thursday in a three-story brick building between Fore Street and Wharf Street. It was contained by about 5 a.m., Portland Fire Chief Jerome LaMoria said.
The chief said the blaze started in the sub-basement of the building but the cause was still undetermined late Thursday morning. The acrid smell of smoke lingered heavily in the air outside the building, and charred debris piled up outside.
About a dozen people who lived in apartments on the second and third floors were evacuated but there were no injuries.
At least five businesses in the building at 414-418 Fore St. were severely damaged, LaMoria said, including the Dancing Elephant II and Joe's New York Pizza. Some businesses at the adjacent building, including CS Boutique, East End Cupcakes and Old Port Candy Co., were closed Thursday as well.
Andrew Robertson of East Brown Cow, which manages the 424 Fore St. building, said most of the damage to his tenants was smoke related.
Joe Kelley, who owns the pizza shop, said his business will need to be emptied, cleaned and repainted. All of his inventory was lost.
More than that, his employees will not get a paycheck for the foreseeable future.
"We're going to do everything we can to get back open as soon as possible," Kelley said, while acknowledging that some things might be out of his control.
LaMoria said the fire was difficult to tackle because of the age of the building and its many tight spaces. There are no sprinklers inside, according to Kelley.
The building is owned by Joseph Soley, a longtime commercial real estate holder in Portland. Soley recently sold a number of adjacent properties on Fore Street that are going up for auction next week. The building where the fire started was not among the properties he sold.
Police closed Dana and Wharf streets to vehicles and pedestrians on Thursday.
Copyright 2013 - Portland Press Herald, Maine