On a freezing cold night made more bitter by strong northwest winds, Oak Bluffs firefighters were called out just before 8 pm Monday for a fully involved fire at the Oak Bluffs transfer station off County Road.
Firefighters wearing Scott air packs so they could safely breathe battled leaping flames and choking fumes generated by burning construction debris and trash that was stored in the steel building prior to shipment off Island. Icy conditions that made footing unsafe added to the hazardous job.
The fire began in a pile of construction debris. “It was not suspicious in nature,” Acting Oak Bluffs fire chief John Rose told The Times Wednesday after viewing surveillance cameras. “We could see how it started and how it progressed.”
Cold and windy conditions hampered firefighters who spent five hours in the bitter, freezing cold. The contents of the building was a major concern. “We didn’t know what was burning in there because people throw everything in there, and the smoke was really hazardous,” he said. “We had to keep everybody clear and in Scott packs.”
Mr. Rose said there was no way to know what was burning. “It was a really hazardous fire,” he said. “We used a lot of foam to extinguish it.”
Initially, the fire spread to several adjoining dumpsters. Firefighters were also concerned with preventing the fire from spreading to a nearby brush pile in the strong windy conditions.
Edgartown firefighters assisted with a truck at the scene while Tisbury firefighters responded to the Oak Bluffs fire house where they could provide backup in the event of another call.
“We had lots of people willing to come out in those cold freezing conditions and give us a hand,” Mr. Rose said. “It was really nice.”
Transfer station reopens Thursday
The transfer station is managed by Brunos. Mick Vukota, transfer station manager, said Tuesday morning that the station would reopen at 7 am, Thursday morning.
“The firefighters did a tremendous job last night, particularly under the weather conditions,” Mr. Vukota said. “It was completely engulfed when they got here so they did a tremendous job to save our equipment that was nearby and most of the building.”