Early morning blaze destroys unoccupied Edgartown house


Edgartown firefighters responded early Saturday morning to a report of a fully involved house fire at 16 Mockingbird Drive in the Dodger’s Hole subdivision.

The house and an adjacent guesthouse were unoccupied. There were no injuries to responding firefighters, Edgartown fire chief Peter Shemeth told The Times.

Because of the extensive damage, investigators from the office of the State Fire Marshall will investigate. They arrived on the Island just before noon on Saturday.

A neighbor reported the fire to 911. Firefighters received the first page at 4:25 am. Chief Shemeth said the response of the volunteer force, including a backup truck from Oak Bluffs, pleased him.

The most difficult job the first arriving firefighters faced was subduing intense flames, which were leaping out of what was left of the roof, Chief Shemeth said.

“It is hard when the fire has spread to that extent,” Mr. Shemeth said. “You surround and drown. It is not as though you are going to save anything at that point.”

The quick response and a hydrant in front of the house made the job of knocking down the flames easier. But it was a long morning for firefighters. “It just took a long time to extinguish all the flames and hot spots because the interior was burnt out,” he said.

The owner of the three-bedroom saltbox is Michael Torcia of East Longmeadow. Mr. Torcia purchased the house, then in foreclosure, for $317,000 from J.P. Morgan Chase Bank on February 12, 2010, according to the assessor’s office.

Drill Sunday

Firefighters will have an opportunity to hone their skills Sunday morning when they burn a house in Katama. The owner planned to demolish the building and agreed to let the fire department use it for training purposes.

He said the house is in an ideal location, in an open area and near a water supply.

“We arranged that because we hadn’t had anything recently,” Chief Shemeth said with a weary laugh.