A raging fire destroyed an unoccupied home on West York Lane early Thursday morning in the thickly settled residential neighborhood near Nantucket Cottage Hospital.
The house is believed to have been undergoing renovations, but the owner was off-island, and no civilians or firefighters were injured as a result of the blaze that gutted the structure. The home at 12 West York Lane, which was just purchased in Oct. 2022 for $2.29 million, is considered a total loss.
"We have no identified cause at this time but nothing appears suspicious at this point," fire chief Michael Cranson told the Current.
Firefighters responded to the small side street around 2 a.m. Finding the structure engulfed in flames, the department called for all available firefighters to respond to the scene. Despite problems accessing a sufficient water supply due to issues with the hydrants in the area, they managed to bring the blaze under control within 1.5 hours, and prevented the fire from spreading to the neighboring homes.
Cranson also credited the Nantucket Police Department officers "for their swift action in alerting neighbors and by checking nearby streets for flying embers." In one case, Officer Chase Colasurdo kicked in the door of the house immediately to the north of the burning structure to evacuate anyone inside who might have been sleeping.
Employees of the Nantucket Water Company and National Grid also responded to the scene to assist firefighters with the hydrants and shut down power in the area.
Other residents of West York Lane gathered in the street to watch firefighters bring the blaze under control. They said workers had been in the house recently, but no one had been living there since the fall.
Two engines, two ambulances, one tanker, a fire prevention captain, deputy fire chief Sean Mitchell, and Cranson were all on the scene, and were still putting out hot spots at sunrise.
It was clear that firefighters struggled with accessing a sufficient water supply during the initial response. After going through the available water in their tanks, firefighters discovered there was a problem with the two closest hydrants at the Five Corners intersection and on York Street. They were unable to connect their hoses to the hydrants, prompting firefighters to utilize the tanker water to protect the surrounding homes and the areas of exposure while the issue was addressed.
The situation ultimately prompted the department to run a line out West York Lane and onto York Street, then up the hill toward the Old Mill and back down Prospect Street nearly to the hospital, roughly 200 yards away.
Asked about the hydrant issues, Cranson said, "the water department was looking into their hydrants so they be more helpful as to what was the problem."
Nantucket Water Department director Mark Willett told the Current that the fire department had a hard time connecting to one hydrant and quickly moved to another one. He added that the NFD did a great job containing the fire and stopping it from spreading.
“We are very thankful for their efforts," Willett said. "We are working with the fire department and looking into any issues there might be with that particular hydrant.”
While the cause of the fire remains unclear, Cranson said there is an ongoing investigation being conducted by members of the Nantucket Fire Prevention Bureau.
By Thursday afternoon around 2 p.m., an excavator from Holdgate Partners was at the property, knocking down portions of the remaining structure to make it safe for the surrounding residences. A Nantucket Fire Department crew remained on site for a fire watch, actively monitoring for any flare ups.
The house at 12 West York Lane was recently sold to the Old Gray Barn Trust in October, 2022, for $2.29 million. The 2,100-square-foot home was built in 1986, according to property records.
The caretaker for the property was at what remained of the residence, and said he was on the phone with the homeowner, who remained off-island.