May 25—Officials are still investigating the cause of a hotel fire that lit up the night skies over the Boothbay Harbor region Monday night with a smoke plume so large it could be seen on weather radar.
Nothing but smoldering rubble and piles of charred debris remained Tuesday at what was once the secluded Beach Cove Waterfront Inn, located on 3 acres overlooking West Harbor Pond.
State Fire Marshal Joe Thomas said Tuesday evening that investigators may never know what caused the fire. He said images show widespread destruction, leaving investigators with little to work with. The fire remains under investigation.
The inn, which opened in 1976, was to begin taking guests Friday, but was unoccupied when the fire broke out around 8:30 p.m. Monday night, according to fire investigators.
Boothbay Harbor Fire Chief Nick Upham, the first responder to arrive at the scene, told News Center Maine there were no injuries, but several nearby homes had been at risk.
When he arrived, Upham said, the wooden, two-story structure was "so fully, deeply involved that it was starting to melt and smoke up buildings around it. There was no question of saving the motel. We couldn't even get close enough."
Upham could not be reached Tuesday evening.
Several neighboring homes were occupied when the fire broke out, including one belonging to the inn's owners, Larissa and Andrei Elizarkov, who live at 42 Lakeview Road. Heat from the fire melted the siding on one home and embers were blown into nearby woods, raising concerns that the fire might spread.
The fire destroyed at least three utility poles and knocked out power to more than 2,000 Central Maine Power Co. customers Monday night. CMP crews spent Tuesday repairing the damage and power had been restored by Tuesday afternoon.
The inn was valued at $1.1 million, according to town tax records.
In a telephone interview Tuesday evening, Larissa Elizarkov said the property, which contained 43 rooms, was insured and that she and her husband plan to rebuild.
"I doubt this year, but yes, we will build back better," she vowed.
Larissa said the inn hosted guests from all over the country and world and was a source of pride to the couple.
"It was very near and dear to our hearts," she said. "It wasn't just a business to us."
Guests lamented its loss on the inn's Facebook page.
"So heartbroken when we heard the tragic news," Wendy Christie wrote. "My husband and I spent our honeymoon at Beach Cove Inn 12 years ago. Such a beautiful place and many wonderful, cherished memories."
It was the second major hotel fire this year in Maine. A fire in February at the Bluenose Inn in Bar Harbor caused more than $10 million in damage.