No one was injured Thursday night when a three-alarm fire on Commercial Street in Portland nearly destroyed a specialty seafood distributor’s retail store and damaged the business’s storage and production facility.

Police responded to a burglar alarm about 9:40 pm. at the retail store of Browne Trading Company, which sells caviar and other specialty fish and fine food products in the one-story retail store, said Portland Fire Chief Keith Gautreau. The business has a three-floor production and storage facility attached to a smaller retail store.

The first officers to arrive on the scene found heavy smoke and called the fire department, Gautreau said. When the first fire companies arrived, the smoke was so thick it was difficult to determine at first where the flames were coming from, Gautreau said.

The flames were centered on the one-story retail store, Gautreau said. Fire heavily damaged the interior of the building and roof. Most of the three-floor production facility sustained smoke and soot damage, but firefighters were able to save about $250,000 worth of caviar that was stored inside, Gautreau said.

The fire went to three alarms because of the heavy smoke, the size of the building and the old style of construction which makes fire-fighting more difficult. About 60 firefighters were called to assist.

It took firefighters about 90 minutes to get the fire under control, and several hours more to make sure all of the flames were out and to ventilate the building. Gautreau said the retail space is heavily damaged but is salvageable.

Gautreau said investigators are working to determine the origin and cause of the fire.

“There’s nothing particularly wrong and there’s nothing particularly suspicious at this point, but we may find out more when we start going through evidence,” Gautreau said.


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