HALLOWELL – Slate’s Restaurant, a Hallowell landmark, was destroyed by a fire that burned for six hours Sunday afternoon.

According to Hallowell fire Chief Michael Grant, firefighters were called to the three-story, 169 Water St. building at 11:30 a.m. The fire was still smoldering with hot spots at 8 p.m. Sunday night.

“The building is too dangerous to send firefighters into,” Grant said from the scene of the fire Sunday night. “We’re waiting on an excavator to come in and knock down a corner of the building so we can get to the hot spots.”

Such problems are not uncommon in old buildings that have seen numerous renovations, Grant explained.

“This building had three roofs built right on top of each other,” he said.

Grant expected the excavator to arrive Sunday night.

Grant estimated that the building, which houses Slate’s on the first floor and apartments on the second and third floors, was built during the 1700s. “It really is too bad to see a historic building destroyed,” he said.

The fire appears to have started in the kitchen area of one of the apartments, Grant said. “At this point, it looks completely accidental,” he said.

All tenants, the restaurant employees and their customers escaped from the fire without harm.

Tenants left homeless by the fire were being assisted by the Red Cross Sunday night.

According to WCSH-6’s Web site, Slate’s restaurant employs 60 people.

The fate of the restaurant was unclear Sunday night.

“Thanks to brick firestops built into the building, only a third of it burned,” Grant said.

Spared from the flames were the restaurant’s seating area and the apartments above it. That part of the building suffered only smoke damage, Grant said.

However, the kitchen and bar of the restaurant, as well as the apartments above them, were gutted by the blaze.

Slate’s Restaurant leases the space from building owner Robert Stubbs. Stubbs was notified of the fire Sunday night.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.