Edgartown fire had head start
From the bright glow in the early morning sky yesterday, responding firefighters knew they were heading toward a severe fire, Edgartown fire chief Peter Shemeth said late yesterday. His first thoughts focused on the safety of the occupants and members of his department.
"I knew it was not a good thing," said Mr. Shemeth.
When firefighters arrived at approximately 5 am, the house located at 12 Fourth Street North off Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road was totally engulfed in flames. Richard A. Bjornsen is the owner of record of the two-bedroom, two-bath house.
Chief Shemeth said the emergency call came from a third party, after an occupant apparently called someone else, who then called 911 on a cell phone that routed the call through Framingham. The result was that firefighters lost considerable time.
"The fire got a real good head start on us," said Mr. Shemeth. When firefighters arrived, flames were shooting through the roof. Oak Bluffs firefighters were called and provided mutual aid.
Photo by Rob Gatchell
Firefighters knocked the flames down and then made an interior attack. "Everybody did an excellent job," said the chief.
The occupants got out of the house, and there were no injuries. The house was a total loss.
Yesterday afternoon Chief Shemeth said the cause of the fire was under investigation but could be difficult to determine due to the amount of damage.
The Cape and Islands chapter of the Red Cross assisted the fire victims with temporary housing and other assistance. According to Glen Beasley, Red Cross chapter executive director, there were seven occupants including one child living in the house.
The occupants were Brazilian, and that presented communication problems. He said the local Red Cross volunteers were able to rely on a new telephone translation service.
The Times was unable yesterday to contact Mr. Bjornsen for comment.