June 25, 2019
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Fire burns Portside Grill in Bar Harbor

BAR HARBOR, Maine — A fire at a Cottage Street restaurant threatened several nearby buildings and drew firefighters from several Hancock County towns before it was extinguished late Tuesday night.

The fire was reported on the second floor of the Portside Grill on Cottage Street a few minutes after 6 p.m. Flames tore through the roof, sending billowing clouds of heavy black smoke rolling over the rooftops as firefighters doused the buildings with water sprayed from extended ladders hovering over the street, according to witnesses.

Firefighters were able to prevent the flames from spreading to two adjacent buildings — Rite Aid pharmacy on one side and the Thirsty Whale tavern on the other, according to Bar Harbor Fire Chief Matt Bartlett. He said both abutting buildings are believed to have suffered smoke and water damage in the incident.

“We [had] fire from extending into the other structures,” Bartlett said.

The blaze was extinguished by 11:30 p.m., at which point most firefighters packed up their equipment and went home. Fire departments from Hancock, Lamoine, Mount Desert, Southwest Harbor, Tremont, and Trenton all sent trucks and dozens of firefighters to the scene to assist.

The were no injuries from the fire, the fire chief said.

The fire, the day after the busy Labor Day holiday, attracted hundreds of onlookers who stood down Cottage Street away from fire trucks where the street had been blocked off. Charred debris that had been washed out of the burning restaurant by the deluge of water from firehoses littered the street.

Bartlett said it was unclear where in the Portside Grill building the fire had started but the investigators with the State Fire Marshal’s Office had traveled to Bar Harbor to help in examining the fire scene. He said Bar Harbor firefighters were expected to remain at the building all night in case flames flared back up.

Both the Portside Grill building and the Rite Aid building have a handful of second-floor apartments that, according to Bartlett, currently are not habitable. Tenants in those apartments were being put up at local hotels for the night while longer-term arrangements were being pursued, he said.


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