Photos and video by Robert Gatchell
Oak Bluffs and West Tisbury firefighters responded to a house fire on Old Barnes Road Wednesday evening, and found the front of the two-story structure fully engulfed in flames.
Firefighters were able to douse the flames in time to save much of the home from further damage. The building was unoccupied at the time of the fire.
Wednesday was the first time firefighters had to work without one of the Oak Bluffs water towers, which affected hydrant pressure. One tower was drained yesterday for maintenance, and will be out of service for several months.
By coincidence, the Oak Bluffs and West Tisbury departments staged a drill earlier in the evening on Greenleaf Avenue, near Sunset Lake, to practice using tanker trucks and portable water containers. One hour after the drill ended, firefighters had to put the plan into action.
“Last night was the first night we had the challenges of the water tower being drained,” Oak Bluffs Fire Chief John Rose said. “The hydrant pressure was decent, but without having the extra storage, you lose your pressure pretty quick.”
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The preliminary inquiry points to debris left on an outside porch by workers who were refinishing floors in the seasonal home, as the place where the fire started, according to Chief Rose.