NANTUCKET, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — A fire that tore threw a historic hotel on Nantucket and two other homes this past weekend was most likely caused by smoking materials, fire officials on the island say.
An investigation by the Nantucket Fire and Police departments along with state fire officials found the fire started in the area beneath the porch of the Veranda House Hotel, where the hotel stores its trash. Nantucket Fire Chief Stephen A. Murphy, Nantucket Police Chief William Pittman, and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said in a statement that someone had improperly disposed of smoking materials, which caused the blaze.
Chief Murphy said the fire started at around 6:45 a.m. on the morning of Saturday, July 9 and since it started underneath the porch, the building's fire alarms were unable to detect the smoke for some time. The fire then spread throughout the hotel and to two surrounding buildings, all three of which suffered major damage and were eventually declared a total loss.
State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said in a statement that smoking materials are the leading cause of fatal fires and that it is important to make sure all smoking materials are properly put out before they are disposed of.
"Never stub out a butt on a porch or stairway or toss it in a planter, mulch, or debris, where it can smolder unseen before igniting a fire.," State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said in a statement. "Use a heavy ashtray with water or sand and keep it on a sturdy surface. And be sure to put it out, all the way, every time.”
When the fire began, off-duty fire Captain Nate Barber and several civilians ran into the building and helped people evacuate. Firefighters from Nantucket and the Cape battled the fire for more than 12 hours before it was put out around 8 p.m. on Saturday. Four firefighters went to the hospital but were eventually released.
Captain Murphy thanked the fire crews, Captain Barber, and the civilians nearby for helping make sure everyone was safe.
"We’re extremely fortunate that everyone made it out safely, and I want to recognize the heroic efforts of community members whose immediate action under dangerous conditions helped to save lives," Chief Murphy said in a statement.
The Veranda House Hotel was a historic building on Nantucket that dated back to the 1600s.