The owner of The Last Unicorn wants to revive the iconic Waterville restaurant after Sunday’s devastating fire.
Sidney Geller, who owns the property at 6 and 8 Silver St., told the Waterville Morning Sentinel he plans to rebuild after a fire leveled the buildings there early Sunday morning.
His property manager, Bruce Fowler, told the newspaper “we’re not wasting any time” and have already begun putting together plans to rebuild at the same spot.
The fire started just before 4 a.m. in an area of The Last Unicorn where cleaning rags were stored, Shannon Moss, a spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said late Sunday afternoon. She said the fire was ruled an accident.
Firefighters encountered a quickly deteriorating situation on Sunday as heavy smoke reduced visibility and heat and flames kept crews from approaching the heart of the blaze. Reinforcements were called for about 3:56, 4:01 and 4:12 a.m.
Crews used an excavator to keep the flames from spreading to the nearby Silver Street Tavern and Cancun Restaurant. At one point, flames began to spread toward the Cancun Restaurant, but firefighters extinguished them and stopped their further spread, according to the Waterville Fire Department.
Still, nearby buildings sustained minor smoke damage.
Fowler told the Sentinel the cause was apparently caused by spontaneous combustion. The pile of oily rags heated to the point of igniting.
It’s not just the property owners who plan to rebuild. John Picurro, who bought The Last Unicorn in 2019, is eager to work with Geller to reopen his restaurant at the same location, where it has been since 1978, according to the Sentinel.
Picurro operated The Last Unicorn until June 2021 when it closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It had just reopened in February, the Sentinel reported.
Three firefighters suffered minor burns in the battle. They were treated at the scene, and taken to a local hospital as a precaution and released.