A three-alarm fire in a densely populated neighborhood is never good news. But area firefighters took a bad situation and kept it from being a lot worse Thursday, and deserve credit for containing a blaze that could easily have gotten out of hand.

The fire started in the empty Jordan’s Meats processing facility, which is being demolished to make way for a new hotel. A crew that was gutting the building was on its lunch break when the flames broke out. They grabbed a hose and tried to put it out themselves, but it was spreading too quickly.

Fire personnel were quickly dispatched to the scene.

The former meat packing plant, which has been vacant for about five years, is about 1,000 feet long and 300 feet wide. It fills an entire city block, bordered by Franklin, India, Middle and Fore streets. It is a neighbor to several small businesses and a tightly packed neighborhood of apartment houses, whose many residents poured out into the street to see what was going on.

The entire Portland Fire Department turned out to fight the blaze. So did crews and equipment from South Portland, Gorham, Cape Elizabeth, Westbrook and Falmouth.

The crews worked together to contain the fire and keep it from spreading to nearby homes and businesses.

In the end, no one was hurt and property damage was confined to a building that is going to be demolished anyway and the loss of some frozen food in the kitchens of nearby restaurants, which lost their electrical power for a while due to the fire.

Greater Portland firefighters and Portland Chief Fred LaMontagne were able to keep this bad news story from turning into a big story. As the ashes get cleaned up, they deserve our thanks.


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