Tisbury firefighters contain Sunday blaze

The smoke and flames were intense and firefighters fought to keep the blaze from spreading to nearby houses. — David Stanwood

Updated Tuesday, 4:15 pm

On a warm sunny Sunday, when many people were enjoying a day off, Tisbury and Oak Bluffs firefighters responded to an afternoon blaze in a garage workshop behind the home of Albion Alley, III on Hvoslef Way, off Lake Street, overlooking Lake Tashmoo.

Assistant Tisbury fire chief Jim Rogers directed the effort to fight the fire that broke out at about 2 pm. Firefighters, assisted by a light southwest breeze, managed to contain the fire in a relatively small area of the congested neighborhood and keep the flames from spreading to the adjacent Tashmoo Boatyard, nearby propane tanks, and several small houses.

Mr. Alley’s garage workshop, its contents which included his work tools, his truck and a car, about 50 lobster traps, a satellite dish and a nearby shed owned by a neighbor were destroyed. There were no injuries.

Mr. Rogers praised the quick response of Tisbury firefighters, Tisbury EMS and members of the Oak Bluffs fire department, who provided mutual aid, in the middle of the afternoon. Tisbury EMS set up a recovery tent where firefighters could cool down. “It was a hot day, particularly in turnout gear, and they made sure no one got overheated,” Mr. Rogers said.

The cause of the fire has not been determined.

David Stanwood of West Tisbury witnessed the fire. “My wife, Eleanor, was rowing on Lake Tashmoo and I was in our sailboat,” he said in an email to The Times. “It was just before 2 pm on Sunday. She started shouting at me and pointing towards the opposite side of the harbor by Tashmoo Boatyard. I turned and saw black smoke starting to billow up from behind Albion Alley’s house on the lake front. I called 911 and we made our way across the harbor to get a closer look. We watched as the smoke increased and large flames burst out amid the homes. It was alarming, especially when we heard the screams of children.

“The fire became very intense and it seemed as if the surrounding homes would be involved, but the firemen soon arrived and got things under control. Several explosions were heard at the height of the fire. Curious boaters in the crowded harbor congregated nearby to watch and Albion Alley came speeding in on his outboard from fishing on the sound. He ran his boat up on the beach, hopped out, and ran up to his home, but there seemed little he could do as the fire was intense and very dangerous. We were relieved to hear that no one was hurt.”

Jamie Greer of Oak Bluffs, a car mechanic and family friend, had preceded Mr. Alley off the water. When he saw the flames he ran to the house to let Mr. Alley’s dog out. In bare feet he attempted to move Mr. Alley’s truck but was unsuccessful due to the heat, according to one witness. Then he began hosing down a hedge that separated the flames from a series of propane tanks until firefighters arrived.

Albion Alley, Mr. Alley’s son, said the family was grateful for the response by firefighters. “It was a great effort,” he said.

The younger Mr. Alley was on South Beach when he heard the news of a fire in the neighborhood and he rushed home. “Everyone’s been great,” he said, “There was just an outpouring of support from the neighborhood.”

The home and garage workshop originally belonged to Mr. Alley’s grandfather, Albion “Beanie” Alley Jr., a well-known Islander. The workshop contained a lifetime of memories.

There was quite a lot of sentimental value, Mr. Alley said.

Tisbury fire chief John Schilling was off-Island when the fire broke out but he arrived in time to survey the cleanup effort. “Nothing is going to replace a lifetime’s worth of collectibles and tools, that’s the part that breaks your heart,” he said.