By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,615)
The City of Portland Fire Department responded to a call reporting a structure on fire at 18 McKinley Court on Great Diamond Island at 4:30 am today. The initial citing of the fire and the call came from the Casco Bay Bridge tender who reported seeing a glow from the Island. Firefighters found the building under renovation engulfed in flames. The magnitude of the fire resulted in the need for multiple apparatus. Firefighters and Police Officers from Portland and Long Island as well as Island volunteers responded.
The fire and smoke caused significant damage, currently estimated at between $5 – $9 million dollars. According to Deputy Chief Robert Wassick, “Due to the magnitude and location of the fire, we have requested and received approval for the State Fire Marshall’s office to assist in the investigation. This is routine under these circumstances.” One of the challenges of the investigation would be the need to get heavy equipment out to the island. This equipment is needed to move the heavy debris necessary in order to fully evaluate evidence at the scene.
The project under construction was called the Inn at Great Diamond Cove. It is being developed in a former US Army Barracks on the F ort McKinley site on the Island. It is a reuse of the last and largest building on the complex into a full-service hotel with a variety of room types. The site is on the National Register of Historic Places.
“This project is a wonderful reuse of a long abandoned property. While the future status of this project is now unknown, we remain optimistic with regard to development of the site,” said Jeff Levine, Director of Planning and Urban Development for the city.