Cause Of Methodist Church Parsonage Fire: Unknown

David Creed •

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The official cause of a fire that struck the Methodist Church Parsonage back in June remains unknown, but the findings from an investigation by the Nantucket Fire Department into the blaze that struck revealed a faulty electrical outlet and that there were cigarette butts found on the side deck of the property.

Fire Prevention Officer Joe Townsend said in the report obtained by the Current that after performing a "360 visual" of the property, pertinent findings were cigarette butts on the side deck along with an e-scooter shipping box.

“Upon entry of the C-side deck door smoke damage was visible, moving into the believed room of origin,” Townsend says.

A corner living room suffered heavy smoke damage along with charring on the drywall surrounding where a couch was located. This is where the fire department believes the fire originated. The couch was moved to the exterior of the building while NFD battled the blaze.

“The area of origin is believed to be in the couch area with the cause unknown,” Townsend said in the report. “There was also an electric outlet to the side of where the couch was located that had visible melting and smoke damage. No electrical devices were found to be plugged into the outlet at the time of the investigation, although the breaker had tripped that serviced that outlet.”

No residents were home at the time of the fire. The fire department spoke to five of the six residents who told NFD they didn’t notice any smell or sign of fire when departing the morning of the fire. All five residents who spoke to the department said they were non-smokers. It is unclear whether or not the one resident they could not reach is also a non-smoker.

Townsend said they were told the residents did not frequent the living room area in the time leading up to the fire - with the last resident believed to have left for work at approximately 8:30 a.m., which is about 50 minutes before the fire began.

The fire occurred on June 22. All NFD personnel were asked to respond to the station to assist in extinguishing the fire. Over a dozen NFD personnel were on the scene including fire chief Michael Cranson and deputy chief Sean Mitchell.

Three engines were on scene as well as several NPD members to monitor traffic flow. National Grid was also called to the scene and Cranson told the Current they had power to the home shut down.

"Then it was a matter of ventilating the house and trying to figure out what happened," Cranson said at the time of the fire. Cranson's comments also indicate that his department knew from the beginning that the fire originated in the living room.

"We still don’t know what exactly happened but our fire prevention guys are working to find a cause. All we know is that it started in the living room," Cranson said at the time.

A swift response kept the fire contained. When the call came in, the NFD had been in the middle of training their call firefighters and also had a training session going on for the department's full-time firefighters.

"So we had like a dozen firefighters at the station when the call came in," Cranson said. "So as far as timing goes it worked out wonderfully. We were able to have at least seven call people who responded to this scene."

The home also had broken windows visible from the front of the property as well as a damaged front door.

"The living room has been pretty much destroyed and there is smoke damage throughout the entire house," Cranson added.

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