A full complement of Portland firefighters and equipment responded to a report of a fire inside the historic Time and Temperature building on Congress Street on Monday evening, but there was no fire – only a lot of smoke produced by a burned-out air conditioner motor.

Deputy Fire Chief Terry Walsh said an aggressive response was warranted because of the age and size of the 14-story building, which occupies the corner block at Congress and Preble streets. Three engines, three ladder trucks and two ambulances were deployed.

The building, which looms over Monument Square and the city’s downtown, was built in 1924. In 1964, a flashing time and temperature sign was installed on the building’s roof.

“When we first arrived, we could smell the smoke,” Walsh said during a brief news conference.

Walsh said employees at a radio station with offices in the building – 107.5 Frank FM – notified authorities.

Firefighters then spent about a half hour searching the building before they found the source of the smoke, which was coming from an air conditioner in the basement.

Preble Street was closed to traffic, and vehicles were restricted to one lane along the section of Congress Street in front of the Time and Temperature building and the Portland Public Library.

The report of smoke in the building was received around 6:25 p.m. The emergency response attracted a large crowd of curious onlookers.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]