Quick response quells house fire in Edgartown's Boldwater section
Edgartown and West Tisbury firefighters responded to a report of a house fire in the Boldwater subdivision off Edgartown-West Tisbury Road Saturday morning. Edgartown fire chief Peter Shemeth said the fire, which had likely smoldered for a considerable amount of time, was quickly knocked down and contained.
"It was an excellent save," said Chief Shemeth.
Located at 15 Boldwater Drive, the house is owned by Yasuko Nakajima of Chicago, Illinois. It is assessed at $2,689,800, according to town records.
Summer renters were in the house at the time of the fire. There were no injuries.
Mr. Shemeth and Edgartown deputy chief Alexander Schaeffer arrived at the scene first at 7:54 am. Both men attacked the fire with portable fire extinguishers. While not enough to extinguish the blaze, the combined effect was sufficient to hold the fire at bay until the first truck unit arrived.
The fire began in an electric radiant heating panel installed behind the ceiling sheetrock of a second floor bedroom Mr. Shemeth said. Firefighters immediately began tearing down the bedroom ceiling and opening holes in the roof in order to attack the fire at its source.
Due to the lack of an available water source or hydrant, West Tisbury was summoned to provide mutual aid in the form of two tanker trucks as a precaution in case the fire intensified and Edgartown needed more water.
Firefighters employing CAF, compressed air foam, were able to contain the fire to the bedroom and roof immediately above it, the chief said. Water damage was minimal as a result of the use of the foam agent.
Mr. Shemeth said the heating panels in the house are manufactured by Thermofilm and were once quite popular. He said the panel shorted out and because it was above the sheetrock and was surrounded by insulation it had an opportunity to burn well before the occupants saw or smelled any evidence of a fire.
"It was probably smoldering above it, I would think, for at least a day," said Mr. Shemeth. He said that at one point the renters smelled smoke but assumed it was coming from an outside barbecue. That would not have been unusual, the chief said, because the smoke odor was likely escaping through the roof ridge vent and would not have been easily detected inside because it was separated by the sheetrock.
Mr. Shemeth said it was reassuring to have the West Tisbury firefighters and equipment standing by at the scene. Had the fire had more oxygen it might have been a very different story. "If we had opened it up and found that the extent of the fire was more than we anticipated," he said, "we had the firefighting capabilities to take care of it."
Chief Shemeth said that this is not the first time his department has needed to respond to a fire involving Thermofilm radiant heating panels. He said homeowners who have those types of panels should have them inspected on a regular basis.
Assessing the response and outcome, Mr. Shemeth said, "The guys performed flawlessly. Everything went the way it was supposed to."