BAR HARBOR, Maine — There was a short-lived scare at the Criterion Theater on Cottage Street around midday Thursday when a welder accidentally set fire to some insulation in a crawl space above the theater’s front entrance.

The welder was working on supports for a new marquee the theater hopes to erect over the entrance when the fire happened. Joey Kane, assistant fire chief in Bar Harbor, said the welder had taken proper precautions by working on a fire-proof blanket and by having an assistant and a fire extinguisher with him.

“Any time you do welding, you’re going to get some sparks,” Kane said Thursday afternoon. “Somewhere along the line, one went astray and ignited some insulation.”

The welder tried putting out the smoldering fire with his fire extinguisher, but when that didn’t work he immediately called 911, Kane said. About 20 firefighters responded within minutes and quickly put out the smoldering insulation.

Cottage Street between Main and Rodick streets was closed from noon to about 1 p.m., as firefighters sprayed water into the crawl space and waited to make sure the smoke did not reappear. Bystanders stood in the street, watching the fire-fighters to see what might happen.

Rob Jordan, a board member with the theater, said after fire-fighters cleared the scene that damage to the theater was minimal. What damage occurred was confined to the crawl space, he said, which will allow the theater to stay open for its normal business. The quick reaction by the welder and the Fire Department pre-vented the incident from being worse, he said.

The theater hopes to have the new marquee up by the time the country music band Blue County performs there Sept. 27, according to Kimberly Swan, another member of the theater’s board.

According to Kane, there is minimal damage to a coffee shop adjacent to the theater. He guessed that the coffee shop owners likely would be able to stay open while dealing with the fire aftermath.

“We were fortunate every-thing went orderly,” Kane said.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....