PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — The owners of a Portland landmark heavily damaged by fire late Sunday night say they will rebuild.
Moran's Market, located on outer Forest Avenue in the Riverton neighborhood, caught fire just before midnight, shortly after the night shift closed the market.
Family members told NEWS CENTER it's believed the fire was started by wires in the salad bar. Flames charred everything but the kitchen downstairs, and heavily damaged four apartments upstairs over the market.
"We know it houses a family, and it's a dual commercial-residential building, so that's awful," said neighbor Tracy Herrick as she walked her golden retriever Sully to view the fire scene. "[We] woke up this morning hearing the alarm go off with news that Moran's was on fire. We shot right out of bed."
The silver lining is that everyone got out safely, but the building — that didn’t fare as well. Both the first and second floors are badly damaged.
Moran’s has been a neighborhood go-to market since it opened in 1956. Bernie Larsen and his brother-in-law Tommy Moran opened the small market, a mom and pop store, that survived despite big box supermarkets and convenience stores within a mile of it.
A sign of the market’s popularity shone all day Monday as a steady stream of cars and pedestrians stopped by to check out the damage and to register their support for a market they called the hub of the community.
"I’m from Saco, but I used to have a shop around the corner. [I] got addicted to the salad bar and the food here," said a lobster purchaser, as he pulled into Moran's. "I like Bernie, the guy who owns the place. He's great. He's old school, I'm old school.
“It’s sad, it’s a great place. I’ve been coming here for years. It’s sad. Just real sad.”
Neighbor Tracy Herrick said her family stops in at Moran's at least once a day, calling it a neighborhood favorite.
“They are consistent, quality, friendly… they get to know your first name,” she explained. "My kids ride their bikes up here to get their candy picked out and ride back home. We live just a few blocks away and this has been a staple for us and we've been in our house for 15 years and Moran's has always been here.”
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