Early in the morning on Apr. 23, a blazing fire took down The Last Unicorn. Located on Silver Street, The Last Unicorn was a restaurant that specialized in American dining. It had opened years prior but went on a temporary shutdown in 2020 and had only recently reopened in Feb. 2023.
Firefighters were quick to arrive on the scene, but heavy smoke and large flames kept them from entering the building. At 3:56 a.m., 4:01 a.m., and 4:12 a.m., the Waterville Fire-Rescue Department needed to call in reinforcements.
In a Facebook post, the fire department wrote, ”Conditions quickly deteriorated inside the structure resulting in no visibility and high heat conditions. Given the rapid change in conditions and falling debris that crew became disoriented. A mayday was initiated by the Incident Commander at 0412 declaring an emergency.”
Civilians of all nearby buildings were evacuated. The firefighters then used large-diameter hoses and an unmanned aircraft to help direct the fire crews.
Hector Fuentes, the owner of Cancun Mexican Bar and Grill, called 911 after being alerted of the fire by a tenant. In an interview with Wabi-TV, Fuentes said, “15, 20 minutes after that, there was fire everywhere, and I was afraid that my building was going to catch on fire too.”
The restaurant was located between Cancun Mexican Bar and Grill and Silver Street Tavern. To prevent the flames from spreading to these neighboring establishments, the fire department used an excavator to contain the fire. The front and back of the restaurant were removed to improve firefighters’ access to the restaurant. However, nearby buildings still suffered minor smoke damage.
“A few water damages on top of the roof, there are a couple of things that need to be repaired but other than that, normal stuff, smoke,” Fuentes said.
The fire department reported that three firefighters suffered minor burns. They were taken to a local hospital for precautionary measures.
Bruce Fowler, the building owner, spoke in an interview with Wabi-TV about his plan following the fire.
“It is a tragic thing downtown, not that you want anyone to forget it happened, but you don’t need a daily reminder that this happened,” Fowler said.
Fowler’s immediate next step is to clear out the rubble and then the foundation. In regards to the future, he said, “Once it is cleared and stabilized, I will have an architect out there and we will design a building that fits in with the surrounding building in the neighborhood, and we are going to start construction just as soon as we can to [get] this business back up and going.”
~ Vivian Nguyen `25