Eastport’s largest fire in 25 years claimed a former Navy barracks where a man had been living, authorities said.
Jim Guertin had been living in the 9,000-square-foot Arnold Street building that was more recently home to Grossman’s hardware store. He escaped the fire uninjured.
Guertin called 911 just before 1 p.m. when he saw flames spread from his woodstove to the area around the stove’s chimney, Eastport Assistant Fire Chief Tom Critchley said. Flames ate quickly through the old, dry building, reducing it to mostly rubble.
No one was injured and none of the neighboring buildings were damaged, Critchley said.
Eastport and Perry firefighters shut down Arnold Street and Deeks Avenue as they worked for two hours to put out the blaze.
Tuesday’s was the town’s largest fire in nearly 25 years, rivaling the blaze that consumed the Holmes Sardine Cannery in February 1993, Fire Chief Richard Clark said.
Eastport resident Wayne Tripp, one of about 50 people who gathered to watch, arrived at the scene around 1 p.m., when flames had collapsed one side of building. By 1:30 flames had consumed the entire structure, and billows of smoke were visible to his co-workers in nearby Lubec, he said.
“It’s a shame,” Tripp said. “It’s one of the most historic places around town.”
Built in the 1930s, the large, white building originally housed workers for the Passamaquoddy Tidal Power Project, a New Deal-era project that never came to fruition, town assessor Robert Scott said.
It was later used as a Navy barracks and training facility during World War II, before it was sold in the late 1950s, Scott said. More recently, it was known to locals in Eastport’s Quoddy Village as Grossman’s, a hardware store.
According to town records, Guertin bought the property in 2001, and had been living in a 1,100-square-foot central portion of the building.
The building, which was assessed at $26,000, had significantly depreciated in value in recent years, Scott said.