The Nantucket Fire Department rushed to Easton Street Monday afternoon after a reported structure fire at the Nantucket Hotel - but thankfully found no blaze waiting for them at one of the island’s largest lodging establishments.
The huge response came after one of the hotel’s outdoor fire pits was overturned, sparking a small fire on the deck. Employees used a garden hose to douse the flames, and firefighters discovered only smoke coming from the deck when they arrived. They cut into the porch to ensure there was no extension below it.
“It was like a coffee table-style fire pit, and it had an alcohol-based fuel in it,” fire chief Michael Cranson said. “It’s hard to tell when those are actually lit, just because of the alcohol. They thought there was water in it from rain, so they dumped it. They dumped it and it was burning and so then it went through the deck. Our concern was there was some extension underneath the decking. We wanted to make sure there was nothing burning before we let everyone back in. We took up some floorboards and confirmed nothing else was burning. Capt. (Joe) Townsend is looking at the make and model (of the fire pit) to make sure there’s no malfunction. It sounds like it was just a mistake.”
Since the fire happened on the outside of the building, no fire alarms were sounding. Firefighters pulled the alarm and evacuated the hotel when they arrived.
“Where it was, it didn’t set off the interior alarm,” Cranson said. “So when we got here we pulled the alarm and got everyone out of the building until we were sure there was nothing else going on. When I was on my way here, they called over the radio and said there were still flames going. But they had two garden hoses going out here, the workers, and they knocked it down for the most part. Firefighters did a great job of course.”
Less than a year after the Veranda House fire, the concern was huge with a very similar situation: a fire starting on the exterior of one the largest commercial buildings on the island.