Lampost blaze Monday causes limited damage
A carelessly discarded cigarette is what Oak Bluffs fire officials believe was the cause of a small fire at the Lampost on Circuit Avenue Monday evening. A cigarette was flicked into the small nook on the right side of the building, igniting a pile of litter, which flared up to cause minor cosmetic damage to the side of the building, Oak Bluffs fire chief Dennis Alley said Tuesday. No one was injured, and patrons were perched on bar stools ordering beers a few hours later.
Due to the Lampost's location at 111 Circuit Ave., a mutual aid call was automatically sent out to Oak Bluffs, Tisbury, and Edgartown fire crews, who all arrived on the scene within minutes of the 5 pm call.
"We had a quick response from our own department, and an amazingly quick response from mutual aid from Edgartown and Tisbury," Chief Alley said. "Anything on the main street and bang, we want an engine and a ladder from Edgartown, and an engine and a ladder from Tisbury. And they were both there."
Fire crews swiftly snuffed out a fire at the Lampost. Photos by Tim Johnson
Approximately 60 crewmembers from the three towns, including EMS officials, were on the scene for nearly two hours. A handful of trucks from all three towns were parked haphazardly along the entrance to Circuit Avenue, Kennebec Avenue, and around the Flying Horses carousel. A police officer stationed at the foot of Circuit Avenue redirected traffic, and Oak Bluffs's main thoroughfare was closed down until nearly 7 pm.
Once the flames were extinguished, Chief Alley said crews scaled the right side of the building and ripped up siding in order to see if the fire had jumped to the second or third story of the aged structure.
"The thing with a building as old as that, you pull one section of siding off thinking that you're going to get at the studs, and there's another section behind that because it's been done over so many times," Chief Alley said. "It all went well and I was very pleased that we snuffed it quick."
Jamie Hayes, one of the owners of the Lampost, was at work when the bar opened at 4 pm. He left for a few minutes just before 5 pm, and was walking back to the bar when he noticed smoke billowing from the side of building. His first thought was that the cigarette butt receptacle outside the bar was smoldering, but he quickly realized that it was far more serious.
The flames were coming from between the Lampost and the T-shirt store next door, which is closed for the season and without a sign. There was no damage to the neighboring building.
Mr. Hayes said the bartender quickly called 911, and shooed the four or five customers out of the building.
Firefighters scaled the aged Circuit Avenue building to check for additional flames.
Co-owner Adam Cummings said the response from the fire department was tremendous. "It was nice to see everyone responding," Mr. Cummings said. "We were very lucky. There could have been a lot of damage."
Mr. Cummings said the damage was confined to a corner of the inside and outside wall of the front of the building, and that a 52-inch big-screen TV that sits in the corner was unscathed. The owners said this was the first time they have had a fire in the building.
Mutual aid among towns
When a call comes in reporting a fire on Circuit Avenue, an automatic mutual aid call is sent out to Oak Bluffs, Tisbury and Edgartown crews. Due to the tightly packed buildings and the damage a fire in that area could cause, officials take no chances.
Chief Alley said the mutual aid rule was created through the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts, so as to protect highly vulnerable Island locations. An automatic mutual aid call is sent out if there is a report of a fire anywhere on Circuit Avenue, the Martha's Vineyard Hospital, the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, the Steamship Authority, and some of the larger churches.
Tisbury fire chief John Schilling said a fire on Main Street, at the Tisbury School, the Steamship Authority terminal, the R.M. Packer Company or a fire at one of the shipyards, would all trigger a mutual aid call.
Edgartown fire chief Peter Schemeth said fires on Main Street, the Edgartown School, or the Martha's Vineyard Airport and the surrounding business park, would trigger the call.
Janet Hefler contributed to this report.