SUV erupts in flames at State Beach


Updated at 3:35 pm

Edgartown firefighters knocked down a fire that engulfed an SUV on Beach Road by the State Beach dunes Monday afternoon. Edgartown Fire Chief Alex Schaeffer told The Times his department attacked the blaze with Class B from a fire engine cannon before using water. The roadway was closed in both directions while the fire was fought, and until the charred wreck of the SUV could be hauled off on a ramp truck. 

Chief Schaeffer said the operator reported smoke or a smoky smell coming from under the hood. 

Ryan Nebus of Cranston, R.I., who was driving her grandmother’s SUV, confirmed the smoky odor and said there was also a smell “like dead animals.” Nebus told The Times that she was told by firefighters that it was likely an infestation of mice that were nesting in the vehicle that caused the blaze, though the official cause is under investigation. Nebus and her friends all escaped unscathed, and spoke with The Times from the beach, where they were watching the emergency response. 

“We saw it smoking a little, but we weren’t sure what was happening. So we pulled over and got out just in time,” said Julia Hazian, who is a friend of Nebus and also a resident of Cranston. “And then we saw black smoke and we started getting farther away … and then it started flaming from the bottom up, and just got worse.”

Allie Coutu, another of Nebus’ Cranston friends, said she dialed 911 as the SUV got “progressively worse.”

Nebus said the SUV is used as an auxiliary vehicle at her grandparents’ house. “They just keep it here all year-round,” she said.

She thinks it may not have been driven this year, as her grandparents likely brought their own car on-Island for a Memorial Day visit this season. Nebus said her grandparents were concerned for her and her friends well-being. 

The women said they expected to take an Uber home, and are otherwise in decent spirits despite the incident. “We’re fine,” Nebus said.


Photo editor Gabrielle Mannino contributed to this report. Updated to include more details.