WATERVILLE — Downtown businesses on Silver Street were preparing to open Saturday morning following a fire that heavily damaged a nearby building Friday afternoon.

Silver Street Tavern, The Last Unicorn and Cancun Mexican Restaurant will all be open today despite being temporarily closed last night while firefighters battled a blaze that started at nearby 18 Main Street. The three restaurants were evacuated last night and power was turned off due to the danger of the fire spreading, said Waterville Fire Department captain Mike Michaud.

Michaud said the cause of the fire is still under investigation on Saturday morning.

Hank Snipe, head chef at Silver Street Tavern, said he saw a cop car pull up to the back door of the restaurant yesterday afternoon around 4:30.

“We came outside and the fire was raging. It was surreal,” said Snipe. The restaurant was evacuated and closed for about three hours, he said. They re-opened at around 9:30 p.m. Friday.

Snipe said they lost a small amount of food during the time the power was out. Silver Street Tavern, which is at 2 Silver Street, is also located in a building with three apartments overhead and is adjacent to 18 Main Street where the fire was. On Friday the fire leapt across a narrow alley separating the buildings and burned some of the window frames on the Silver Street building, which belongs to Charlie Giguere, according to fire department chief David LaFountain.

Snipe said there was no damage to the restaurant but he thought some of the apartments upstairs were damaged.

Next door, The Last Unicorn and Cancun Mexican Restaurant were also preparing to open on Saturday morning. At The Last Unicorn, which did not re-open Friday night, owner Fred Ouellette said he had lost most of the food at the restaurant but that it was “nothing major.”

Brittany Robbins, manager at Cancun, said that restaurant reopened its bar Friday night around 8 p.m. but did not reopen the dining room because the dinner rush had passed.

She said the restaurant was able to save food in their refrigerators and freezers during the three hours that they lost power and that the state health inspector had visited Saturday morning to make sure that everything was safe.

John Weeks, who is the owner of 18 Main Street said the top two floors of the four-story building are destroyed. The other floors are also heavily damaged and he is not sure whether the buliding can be saved, he said.

“I’m just waiting for an insurance evaluation,” he said. “With old buildings it is hard to tell what will happen.”

Weeks said he did not know the cause of the fire. Bill and Mona Juliano, who own INK-4-LIFE tattoo shop on the first floor, said they believed the fire started on a third-floor floor porch, where a tenant was cooking on a grill.

Their business is totally destroyed and they do not have insurance, Bill Juliano said Saturday morning.

“We basically have to start from scratch,” he said.

No injuries were reported in the fire, said Michaud.

Rachel Ohm —  612-2368
[email protected]

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