BAR HARBOR — A four-alarm structure fire, which drew firefighters from across Hancock County and from select departments in Penobscot and Waldo counties, claimed part of the Bluenose Inn last Thursday. The response was one of the largest in Bar Harbor in recent memory, perhaps since the early 1990s when the main building of the same hotel complex burned.
Shortly before 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 10, crews were called to the scene to find that the north corner of the 45-room Stenna Nordica building, an unoccupied guest building behind the hotel’s main structure, was fully engulfed. Firefighters worked against gravity as they ran hoses from hydrants at street level to the all-wooden building perched high atop a hill.
Hoses tapped into three different hydrants and ran two at a time through pumper trucks at the scene, said Bar Harbor Fire Chief Matt Bartlett on Monday. The need for additional supply lines to the fire proved to be a challenge given that they needed to be run up the steep hill. The job of lugging those hoses, said Bartlett, was performed by some of the department’s newest members, recently enlisted students from College of the Atlantic.
“They did a fantastic job,” Bartlett said.
In all, more than 15 different departments responded, along with ambulance companies from several nearby towns as well as county and state police. A portion of Route 3 was closed to traffic throughout the night, forcing detours around the Eden Street hotel.
Crew members on two ladder trucks – one from Bar Harbor and the other from Southwest Harbor – sprayed water from above, while other firefighters mounted attacks inside the building.
Plumes of thick, black smoke could be seen for miles, but given the building’s location, it was nearly impossible to see the fire from Route 3. Onlookers gathered in the parking lot of the nearby Atlantic Eyrie Lodge, which offered a bird’s-eye view, to watch the flames as they came through the roof of the building.
It took firefighters about five hours to contain the flames, but crews remained on scene throughout the night to douse hotspots. On Friday morning, a new group of firefighters relieved those who had been there overnight, and the cleanup work continued. Bartlett said that department members were also at the station on Saturday cleaning, checking and organizing the equipment that had been used. “There is a lot of work that has to be done after a fire that most people don’t see,” said Bartlett, adding that it was a department-wide effort in the days that followed.
As word of the fire spread through the community, an outpouring of support followed. From water and Gatorade to pizza and homemade snacks, businesses and individual members of the community brought supplies both to the scene and to the public safety building in town. “The response was incredible,” said Bartlett. “It makes you really appreciate the community you are working in and protecting.”
On Friday, students at the Connors Emerson School made and presented a giant thank you card to department members.
The fire marshal’s office is investigating the fire but had not made a determination as of press time.
This was not the first time that a fire has affected the property. The original main structure, which was built in 1894 and named Mizzentop Cottage, burned to the ground during what is now known as the Great Fires of 1947. James MacLeod purchased the charred remains of Mizzentop in 1952 and constructed the Bluenose Inn.
In March of 1994, a propane heater in the basement of the main building caused a fire and the rebuilt structure burned down while the hotel was closed for the winter. It was later rebuilt.
This is the first fire for the Stenna Nordica building, which was constructed around 1980 by then-owners Ed and Judy Hemmingsen.
The Bluenose Inn, owned by Lafayette Hotels since 2004, is currently closed for the season and was unoccupied at the time of the fire.