With the cause of the Sept. 28 fire that destroyed multiple waterfront buildings still unknown, people in Port Clyde are picking through the pieces and trying to figure out what the long-term impact of the blaze will be.
Four buildings that housed well-known businesses Monhegan Boat Line, the Dip Net Restaurant, the Port Clyde General Store and Linda Bean’s Maine Wyeth Art Gallery, were destroyed. Nobody was hurt, but the inferno razed the cluster of waterfront buildings that served as the heart of the coastal village for decades. It took the St. George Fire Department 22 hours to put it out with the help of firefighters from several surrounding towns.
The fire started at the Dip Net Restaurant, but the state fire marshal’s office has not determined what caused it, Shannon Moss, spokesperson for Maine Department of Public Safety, said Friday.
St. George Fire Chief Michael Smith said people from insurance companies have been to the site nearly every day since the fire inspecting the damages, but they were not there on Friday. It’s possible that the insurance companies have identified a cause, Smith said, nobody has heard from them yet.
Amy Barstow, co-owner of Monhegan Boat Line, said the company is waiting to hear from its insurer before deciding what to do next. They are still providing ferry service to and from Monhegan but, with its operations building destroyed, they are doing everything out of their small office building further up the hill, which is causing some difficulties. Monhegan Boat Line is the only ferry service that provides year-round transportation to Monhegan, a remote island community of 119 people.
“We’re asking for a lot of grace from our customers right now,” Barstow said.
The ferry company is working on demolishing and cleaning up the operations building, but it does plan to rebuild when it can, Barstow said.
Residents have been working together to find ways to support the business owners and the fire department, according to the fire chief.
The night after the fire was put out, Smith said members of the community helped firefighters clean up their gear, shortening a five-hour job to only an hour and a half. The people living in the buildings that burned down were visa workers from Turkey, who have since gone home, he said.
Residents have come up with an idea to preserve the memory of the store and to support the fire department at the same time.
“There’s people printing calendars up of paintings of the store,” Smith said. “They’re gonna sell calendars to donate money to the St. George Fire Association.”
The loss of the historic waterfront structures has been hard on the community, he said.
“People were bummed out. It’s a 200-year-old building. It’s a part of the town that’s been there forever, and that really made people sad,” Smith said. “But people are starting to get back to normalcy now.”
Linda Bean’s press team did not respond to requests for comment.
Jules Walkup is a corps member. Additional support for this reporting is provided by BDN readers.