Portland, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- When the call came in to emergency dispatchers from 86 Exchange Street, the callers could smell and see lots of smoke in the building, but could only hear the fire behind a wall.
The situation forced fire fighters to find the fire before they could fight it.
"When units arrived we found smoke coming from several walls on several different floors," explained Portland Fire Chief Jerome LaMoria. "We found a fire that was concealed inside of a wall space. It required a great amount of work."
Fire crews had to cut several holes in the wall to extinguish the blaze, but once they were able to gain access to it, it took about a half hour to put out.
"These are the types of buildings that certainly make Portland unique, and being 1900-era buildings, they are tightly spaced and can result in very catastrophic fires," added LaMoria.
Ladder trucks and hoses filled the block of Exchange Street between Federal and Middle Streets, adding to already difficult travel conditions in the Old Port due to utility work in the area.
Several people crowded around to watch as fire fighters entered and exited from the row of businesses.
Everyone was able to make it out safely, and no one was injured in the blaze. Fire investigators are now looking to determine what sparked the fire just before ten Monday morning.
The city says smoke damage will keep two restaurants located adjacent to the fire closed for the time being while they work with the city's health inspector to determine the extent of the damage to their inventories and the amount of clean-up they will require before they can reopen their doors.