2014-09-12 / Front Page

Fire ravages business complex

Scarborough Commons is home to 16 businesses
By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer


An accidental electrical fire caused nearly $1 million in damage to Scarborough Commons, a multi-tenant building at 153 Route 1. The building received substantial damage, displacing 16 businesses. (Michael Kelley photo) An accidental electrical fire caused nearly $1 million in damage to Scarborough Commons, a multi-tenant building at 153 Route 1. The building received substantial damage, displacing 16 businesses. (Michael Kelley photo) More than a dozen business are beginning to rebound after an electrical fire destroyed the Scarborough Commons building at 153 Route 1 Monday night.

Scarborough Fire Chief B. Michael Thurlow said employees of the 16 businesses were allowed back in Tuesday, Sept. 9.

Firefighters were on the scene until the early morning hours Tuesday, battling the three-alarm fire, which broke out about 7:20 p.m.

Departments from Buxton, Cape Elizabeth, Gorham, Old Orchard Beach, Portland, Saco, South Portland and Westbrook assisted the Scarborough Fire Department. The fire took a toll on the responders.

Thurlow said three of his firefighters were treated for “minor heat exhaustion.”


Scarborough Fire Chief B. Michael Thurlow explains how the fire was diffi cult to contain due to the construction and various expansions of the building at 153 Route 1 as Sgt. Tim York of the State Fire Marshal’s Office looks on. Scarborough was aided by eight area fire departments. (Michael Kelley photo) Scarborough Fire Chief B. Michael Thurlow explains how the fire was diffi cult to contain due to the construction and various expansions of the building at 153 Route 1 as Sgt. Tim York of the State Fire Marshal’s Office looks on. Scarborough was aided by eight area fire departments. (Michael Kelley photo) “The guys were tired. They put in a long day,” Thurlow said.

Due to the layout and construction of the building, the fire had to be fought from the outside.

“Because this is a building that’s been added on over the years and there were a lot of void spaces, it was a challenging fire to fight,” Thurlow said in a joint press conference with the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

In fact it was in one of these void spaces where the fire, which was caused by an accidental malfunction of the electricity system, first broke out.

“We determined through the investigation the origin of the fire was in the ceiling void space above unit seven,” said Sgt. Tim York of the State Fire Marshal’s Office, which was called in to investigate the fire.

According to Steve McCausland, spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety, the fire caused “at least a million in damage.”

York said his office “cannot pinpoint” the exact reason for the fire, but stressed that electric systems are typically “inherently safe.” The fire severely damaged the interior core of the building, which was not outfitted with sprinklers. The exterior ends of the building were damaged by smoke and water. Thurlow said the main section of the building, where the fire originated, was built before the town enacted a sprinkler requirement.

The building, owned by Richard Aube, is home to 16 tenants, including a number of health and wellness offices, travel agencies, hair salon, engineering firm, legal center, as well as other businesses.

Help from the community started almost immediately. On Tuesday, Scarborough Economic Development Corporation (SEDCO) and the Scarborough Community Chamber of Commerce offered their shared conference room space to Scarborough Commons businesses that were displaced by the fire.

Karen Martin, executive director of SEDCO, met with many tenants Tuesday as they examined the condition of their units in an effort to determine what their immediate needs were. If needed, she will help businesses find temporary work space. Martin said she is sure additional aid will continue to come in.

“This community is wonderful in terms of supporting their fellow business owners. I think a lot of what these businesses will need will come from the community,” she said.

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