Ming's Restaurant at 185 Searsport Ave. was destroyed by fire early Sunday morning.

The blaze was reported at about 1:15 a.m. Belfast Fire Chief Jim Richards said it appeared to have started in a vehicle parked along the side of the restaurant and spread to the building.

Four people who were in an apartment on the second floor escaped the building uninjured, Richards said. By the time firefighters arrived, the building was engulfed in flames.

"They were lucky," Richards said. "There was just one way out. They come down the stairs out the side door where the fire was. Fortunately no one got hurt."

Belfast, Searsport, Belmont and Morrill fire departments responded to the scene. Firefighters spent four hours putting down the blaze and returned for another three hours in the morning, Richards said.

Local firefighters called in the state Fire Marshal to officially determine the cause of the fire.

City tax records show the building is owned by Qi Qi Chen, whose address is a post office box in Bucksport. Belfast Police recorded the names of two occupants, who are former owners of the building, according to tax records.

Richards said the four residents of the apartment were put up at a motel. Officials called the Red Cross for possible assistance, he said.