Three Alarm “Bonfire” Burns Atlantic House on Hill; Three Firefighters Hurt

By Carol McCracken (Post # 605)

Around midnight a three alarm “bonfire” broke out in the backyard (see above photo) of a recovery house at 201 Congress Street on the Hill; the Atlantic House is a residence for 16 men who are recovering from addicitions. The house is inhabitable.

The roof collapsed about 12:45 am said Chris Tooley, who with her husband, owns the apartment building next door and lives there as well. They notified their three tenants of the fire and told them to leave the building. The Tooleys drove up Congress Street and saw the roof collapse at 201 Congress Street. “It looked like Mt. St. Helena going up in flames,” Tooley said. One of the residents of the recovery house knocked on and screamed at the Tooley’s door to tell them about the fire. “It’s nice to be friendly to neighbors,” said Tooley. “There’s nothing wrong with getting to know your neighbors. I”m glad we did.”

About a half dozen residents of the Atlantic House met with a representative of the Red Cross and the building’s owner, Lacey Flanagan, Yarmouth this afternoon at the Cummings Center on the Hill. The Portland Police Department had “no comment” about the incident.

A neighbor told MHN.com that the residents who lived at the Atlantic House had set the “bonfire” in their backyard.

“We provided warm beverages for the firefighters from about 1:30 am until 4 am,” said Erin Moore who works at the 7 Eleven on Cumberland Avenue. “There were two volunteers, a father and son, who shuttled the three canisters of free coffe to the firemen. We also provided regular cups of coffee for some. It was a cold evening.” Moore called her boss, Tammy Sherwood, owner of the popular convenience store around 1 am to ask permission. “Of course,” said Sherwood. “We are part of the neighborhood.”