Hide-away diner burns to the ground

Exterior fire spreads quickly through former Northport diner

Mon, 06/15/2020 - 10:30pm

    NORTHPORT — Just before 5 p.m., June 15, the Belmont fire chief happened to inquire if Northport Fire Department had issued an outside burn permit behind the former Hideaway Diner. Within 5 minutes, before anyone else had even gotten there, fire was already inside, engulfing the rear of the structure.

    For well over four hours, firefighters from Northport, Belmont, Belfast, and Lincolnville fought a battle they knew early on that they’d lose. It’s been several years since the ground floor front doors welcomed hungry patrons into its interior. By the time of today’s fire, the first floor was wall to wall items collected by the current building owners, who lived upstairs, according to Northport Fire Chief Paul Rooney.

    No one was home when the Belmont chief pulled into the lot at 1285 Atlantic Hwy to investigate the source of the smoke. Upon closer inspection, he found a burning pile of debris against the rear of the building, according to Rooney.

    “Initially we were going to try to do an interior attack,” he said. “Every doorway was blocked with stuff...We couldn’t get in. We couldn’t put people inside.”

    As a plan B, the firefighters – whom Rooney estimated to have totaled around 30 at the height of the fire – did what they could by spraying hose water through the windows and other access points. The metal roof, which expanded the entire length of the building, did not help matters further.

    What did lay in the firefighters’ favor was the proximity to hydrants. The location happened to be only a short distance from the Bayside neighborhood, which now has those silt-free, salt-free water sources not seen in other parts of town. The firefighters were also able to pull two propane tanks away from the building to minimize risks further.

    Still, the only way to extinguish the interior fire lay in the wake of an excavator.

    That demolition will not help the investigator from the Fire Marshal’s Office, who will visit the scene due to the questionable nature of the fire’s origin, according to Rooney. But, in the moment, extinguishing the flames took priority.

    As for response by firefighters: “It was a good turnout,” said Rooney. “Good and bad, it was just people getting out of work. Belfast had a good crew. Belmont. Lincolnville had a large crew. I had a good turnout. So, it was just one of those perfect storms.”

    No injuries were reported.


    NORTHPORT — A fire in Northport in the late afternoon June 15 sent plumes of smoke into the sky as firefighters from Northport and area towns raced to the former Hide-Away Diner.

    Northport Fire Department put out a call for mutual aid at 5 p.m. to help fight a structure fire at 1285 Atlantic Highway. Traffic was rerouted from Route 1 onto side roads until 8 p.m., when the road reopened.

    Belfast, Belmont and Lincolnville arrived to help fight the fire.

    As of 7:30 p.m., the highway remained closed and the building was being demolished.

    This story will be updated when more details become available.