The Presque Isle Inn and Convention Center closed suddenly in January, 2023. Credit: Paul Bagnall / BDN

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Before the Presque Isle Inn & Convention Center closed this week, the state fire marshall found code violations with the building’s fire suppression system, according to Presque Isle officials, who later deemed the building unsafe.

The business closed Monday with little notice to employees or the city, throwing into question the fate of the once-popular hotel and its staff, many of whom lived at the inn. As winter weather sends temperatures plummeting, former employees are now without a job and a place to live.

Signs appeared on the building Monday morning stating, “We are closed indefinitely.”

Municipal leaders learned of the inn’s closure that morning. They received no communication from the owner, Cang Quach, said Kim Smith, the city’s resource development and public information officer.

“The city was aware of outstanding code violations noted by the state fire marshal on the fire suppression system, as well as numerous other code violations,” Smith said.

She did not say when the fire marshal inspected the hotel.

After Code Enforcement Officer Tim St. Peter inspected the property Tuesday morning, the city declared the structure dangerous due to safety concerns for the 25 former employees and family members living there.

Residents were notified the building must be vacated by 11 a.m. Friday, Smith said.

St. Peter declined Thursday to say what violations the state fire marshal found or when the city learned of them.

Despite the safety violations, employees of the facility could still live and work there because the hotel was actively working to fix them, St. Peter said.

The Maine Department of Public Safety, which oversees the fire marshal’s office, is compiling information on the code violations and the situation at the Presque Isle Inn, according to spokesperson Shannon Moss, but she declined to share any other information.

The city reached out to the property’s lienholder and community partners, including Presque Isle Housing Authority, the Homeless Shelter of Aroostook and Aroostook County Action Program, and provided each former employee with a letter detailing local community resources, Smith said.

Police and fire department personnel will be on hand Friday morning, and Aroostook County Action Program will provide personnel to assist people with employment and housing, she said.