BANGOR, Maine — An outdoor smoker-cooker was cited as the cause of a fire Tuesday that damaged the building at the corner of Court and Ohio streets that houses Court Street Market and five apartment units, including one occupied by the building’s owner, Richard Van Syckle.
Formerly known as Young’s Market, the convenience store has been a neighborhood fixture for several generations.
According to Assistant Fire Chief Scott Bostock, the fire at 181 Court St., was reported about 4:30 p.m. and everyone inside got out safely, including several pets.
Bostock and Capt. Matt Costello said that the fire began after an outdoor smoker-cooker placed on a ground-level deck at the back of the building ignited nearby combustible materials, including the siding and portions of the deck.
Costello said the fire shattered the glass of a sliding glass door and had started to extend into a kitchen before it was extinguished.
Though parts of the back side of the building had smoke damage, the apartments remain habitable and the store is open for business, he said.
“Another couple of minutes it could have been a different story,” Costello said.
A Boston firefighter who happened by the fire scene credited quick response by more than a dozen Bangor firefighters for preventing the fire from spreading.
“These guys did a great job,” said Boston fire Lt. John Radley, who was visiting friends in Bangor on Wednesday. “All it takes is an extra minute or two and the whole thing’s over,” he said, pointing out where the flames nearly ignited the eaves along the building’s rear.
“Without [quick] response time and [adequate] manpower, you can’t do a thing,” he said.
Among those who helped alert the building’s occupants about the fire was 2½-year-old Michael Hatch.
“He was sitting on his potty pooping, when he said, ‘Mama, fire,’” the boy’s mother, Crystal Hatch said. Hatch, who lives two buildings down from the Court Street Market, said she sent her husband, Josh, running to alert those inside.
Though Van Syckle declined to comment at the scene, a small crowd of people from the neighborhood who gathered at the scene said he acquired the building from the former owner, Scott Leadbetter, and had spent more than a year refurbishing it.
They noted that Tuesday’s fire was the second to hit the building in the last three years.
In March 2006, an electrical fire inside the ceiling of what was then Young’s Market resulted in heavy damage, forcing the market to close and leaving the tenants homeless. The building housed eight rental apartments at the time.