ROCKLAND, Maine — A sprinkler system in the basement of a Rockland hotel saved the structure from major damage early Sunday morning, according to Rockland Assistant Fire Chief Adam Miceli.
A fire that was reported at 12:43 a.m. in the alley between the Trade Winds Motor Inn and a building at 315 Main Street traveled up the side of the hotel and into the basement, said Miceli. The building at 315 Main Street, which contains offices and the Rustica restaurant, was damaged by heat from the fire.
“If it had not been for the sprinkler system it certainly would have been a significantly different situation,” he said. A Rockland police officer on patrol first noticed the flames, which started in a pile of debris left over from a dismantled shed. The motel’s guests — who occupied 117 rooms, according to Miceli, were evacuated and waited outside for more than two hours while the fire was extinguished and the sprinkler system reset. No one was injured and none of the guests’ rooms were damaged.
The flames caused significant damage to the motel and melted the siding on the adjacent office building. Miceli said the extent of the damage was hard to estimate but could top $10,000.
Miceli couldn’t say whether the fire was set intentionally until an investigation by his department and the State Fire Marshal’s Office is complete.
“[Suspicious activity] can’t be ruled in or ruled out,” he said. “At this point the cause is undetermined.”
In the basement, shelving containing stored items burned, along with some wiring and electrical equipment. Firefighters from Rockland and Rockport were able to douse most of the flames quickly before entering the building in search of smoldering hot spots. Fire crews were on scene for about four hours. The sprinkler system, which Miceli said is a requirement in most hotels, stopped the flames from spreading.
Miceli said the local American Red Cross and the Knox County Emergency Management agency were prepared to relocate the guests but those efforts were deemed unnecessary when the hotel was re-opened.