Two house fires keep Edgartown firefighters busy
Over a span of five days, Edgartown firefighters responded to two house fires and saved a family pet in the process.
An early morning fire in the Katama section on February 19 roused members of the Edgartown fire department at 5:30 am. Fire chief Peter Shemeth said flames were visible at the back of the house in the kitchen area when firefighters arrived at a duplex house, owned by Jessica Burnham and located at 15A Schoolhouse Road, just past the Mill Hill boatyard.
Photos by Scott Ellis
The occupants of both units were standing outside the house. "Thank God for the smoke detectors," said Mr. Shemeth. "Because at that point you are usually sound asleep."
Firefighters entered through the front door, the chief said, "and basically pushed and extinguished the fire out the back of the building." Fire damage was limited to the kitchen area however both units suffered smoke damage. According to Chief Shemeth, the cause of the fire was combustible materials left too close to a wall-mounted electric heater. "It came on when it got cold and ignited the articles," he said.
At 7 pm Monday, firefighters received a report of a house fire at 18 Teaberry Lane off Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road. The timing was fortuitous. Firefighters and EMTs were scheduled to meet for a scheduled practice session.
The owner of the house is Tarcisio R. DeOliveira. The fire began in some landscaping equipment stored under a back deck. A neighbor saw the four-foot high flames and alerted Mr. DeOliveira and then called 911.
The fire was beginning to burn into the house. Firefighters entered through the front door and drove the flames back.
One moment of tension involved a search for the family's dog. At first, firefighters thought they were searching for a large dog. On their second search they found the tiny, frightened dog hiding under a bed in a smoke-filled bedroom.
Firefighters administered oxygen. "They were very concerned about the dog," said Mr. Shemeth. "The dog had miraculously survived when it was hit by a car a year ago."
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Chief Shemeth said the department's regular practice routines paid off in the well-coordinated response to both fires. In each case fire crews from West Tisbury and Oak Bluffs provided back-up. "It's a great feeling to know that you can have equipment tied up and there is someone else covering the town if something happens," he said."