Deep Bottom fire investigation yields few answers


An investigation into the Christmas day blaze that completely destroyed a four-bedroom house in the Deep Bottom subdivision in West Tisbury has answered the question of where the fire started but not why.

“The cause is going to remain undetermined,” James Rogers, head of the Dukes County fire investigation team, said. “We don’t know what caused the fire. We know where it started.”

Mr. Rogers said the house had a metal fireplace connected to a metal pipe that was framed in wood where it exited through the roof. The furnace system vent exited in the same roof area.

Mr. Rogers said the fire started in the area of the wooden chimney chase. He said there is no evidence that there was a fire in the fireplace close to the time the fire was discovered.

Investigators have not determined if there was a fire earlier in the day. Mr. Rogers declined to elaborate.

Asked what other homeowners might take from this incident, Mr. Rogers, assistant Tisbury fire chief and a certified fire investigator and inspector, said, “Regardless of what your heat type is or what equipment you have in your house or building, make sure you have it checked routinely.”

Mr. Rogers said he was speaking in general terms and not about the Deep Bottom fire. But he added, “Even if they had a fire in the fireplace it should not have set the house on fire.”

Volunteer firefighters from four towns responded to the fire on the night of December 25 (“Christmas Day blaze destroys West Tisbury house“).

The owners, Dr. Deeb Salem and Patricia Salem of Lincoln, are seasonal residents. They were visiting the Island with three of their children, but the family was not at home at the time the fire started. There were no reported injuries, but a pet Portuguese water dog named Roger died in the fire, the family said.