Portland firefighters at the scene of a fire on Bell Street Wednesday morning. Staff photo by Matt Byrne

Portland firefighters battled a fire in an abandoned building near Bell Street in the North Deering neighborhood Wednesday.

The two-story brick structure stands next to railroad tracks and behind a series of connected light industrial buildings.

By 1 p.m., firefighters had the blaze mostly under control.

Portland Fire Chief Keith Gautreau said it was started by a passing freight train that had a locked wheel, which threw sparks onto the area near the tracks.

Firefighters put out multiple smaller brush fires within about a half-mile area between the Bell Street fire and the area near Bruno’s Restaurant at 33 Allen Ave.

One person was transported to the hospital with minor injuries from smoke inhalation, Gautreau said.


Firefighters used ladder trucks to access the rooftops of both buildings.

Curtis Duvaul, an employee of a business that was evacuated, said there were two or three small fires that erupted after the train passed through.

Matthew Brewer, whose family owns the complex of buildings that includes their construction and millworker business M.R. Brewer, said the section of building where the fire was concentrated used to house a massive dust collection system.

But that section of the building has been condemned for at least 16 years.

Brewer said he was glad no one was hurt, and that the flames did not extend into his or neighboring businesses.

“I’m just glad it didn’t get any further,” Brewer said. “Our mill work building is full of kindling, dried hardwood.”

Fire damaged some parts of one business, Mark White, Inc., which builds commercial furniture, but the majority of the structures appeared unscathed by flames, Brewer said.

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