UPDATED: Video shows Chilmark house fire

House was 'fully engulfed' when firefighters arrived on scene.

An early-morning fire destroyed a Chilmark house. - Rich Saltzberg

Chilmark firefighters were called to a fire at an unoccupied house off South Road in Chilmark at about 3 am Sunday. 

“I arrived on scene seven minutes after the page,” Chilmark Fire Chief Jeremy Bradshaw said. Chief Bradshaw described the house as “fully engulfed,” and shooting “probably 100-foot flames.” The scene was initially “nerve-wracking” because “embers were going everywhere,” he said, presenting a brush fire threat. In addition to battling the blaze, firefighters were forced to police the brush for ignition spots, he said. 

Aquinnah and West Tisbury firefighters joined the fight in what Chief Bradshaw described as “good mutual response” with “plenty of water.” Once the scene was sufficiently saturated, local excavator John Keene was brought in to topple a 40-foot-tall chimney that was left perched in a structurally unsound way, the chief said. 

The fire was reported, the chief said, after a neighbor’s smoke detectors went off. No injuries were reported, and Chief Bradshaw offered no cause. He said the house dated from the 1960s, and may have been architecturally significant. He also said the department has a number of new recruits who are enrolled in Firefighter 1 and 2 training, and they just got invaluable experience fighting the house fire. In light of this, he said, he decided to cancel the ladder training he had scheduled for them later in the day.