Fire Destroys Restaurant In Southwest Harbor 

The Moorings Restaurant on the Shore Road in Southwest Harbor looks to be a total loss after it was gutted by fire this afternoon. Contractor Joe Jantzen and his crew have been restoring a schooner across the street and were some of the first people to spot the blaze. “We were sitting out back there having lunch,” says Jantzen, “then we saw the smoke and we didn’t know what was burning and when we got here, there was flames shooting out the vent and the roof over there and then the fire trucks came in.”Southwest Harbor Fire Chief Sam Chisolm describes the scene when he first arrived. “When I got here there was heavy black smoke coming out of the front of the building and up top where the ventilators are and we had fire coming out of all the windows and doors.” Dozens of spectators gathered as fire crews from three departments tried to save the Moorings restaurant. Among those watching helplessly was the restaurant’s owner, Heath Higgins. Firefighters had initially hoped they could save one side of the restaurant, but they say the building’s construction made that impossible. “We held it out of the right side of the building for quite awhile until we realized there was another false ceiling about half way down the building,” said Chief Chisolm. “And that’s when we had to make a choice whether or not to we were going to try to get into that spot or not. but the position of the roof kept us from getting into that end.”Fire crews then started to focus all their attention on preventing the fire from spreading. “The adjacent buildings are our big concern, between Hinckley’s and the inn, we’ve positioned ourselves to protect those at all cost and basically we’re gonna have to write this building off,” Chisolm said. The mutual aid response from Tremont and MDI played a key role in protecting those buildings. “We couldn’t have done it without them. Having Tremont and Mt. Desert come over with the second ladder truck makes it worth its weight in gold. We have our one, but being able to get it from both sides gave us good protection from exposures.”Nobody was hurt in the blaze. The restaurant wasn’t open at the time. The Fire Marshal’s office has been called in to determine what caused the fire. As for Higgins, his father says, he’s hopeful he’ll be able rebuild.