Fire snarls traffic on Beach Road



A vehicle fire sent plumes of thick black smoke into the air near Martha’s Vineyard Hospital on Friday afternoon around 3:45. The Ford Transit van apparently rear-ended a white SUV, which resulted in the fire, according to Oak Bluffs Deputy Fire Chief Stephen Foster.

Foster said Oak Bluffs Fire and EMS responded to an initial report that came in “about a two-car motor vehicle accident with possible injuries.” On the way to the accident scene, Foster received another report that a car was on fire. 

“While en route, myself and an EMT noticed a dark column of smoke off in the distance, so we believed we had a working fire,” Foster said. Upon arrival, he saw the van “fully engulfed” in flames. “Oak Bluffs had two engine companies and a rescue company respond to suppress and extinguish the fire.” 

Tisbury Police also responded to the accident, blocking off the road and backing off traffic on the Lagoon Pond Drawbridge into Vineyard Haven on Beach Road. Staff members of the drawbridge also assisted in managing the standstill traffic. 

According to Foster, the people involved in the accident had checked on each other’s well-being and called 911, but “heard a pop and then realized the transit van was on fire.” 

There were no injuries.

The SUV was nowhere to be seen when a Times reporter arrived at the accident scene, but Foster said there was “not an extensive amount of damage on that vehicle.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Foster said the driver of the van told him there was nothing flammable in the back of the vehicle. 

First responders attempted to keep people away from the scene because of potential chemicals. The smell of burned plastic and fiberglass occasionally wafted in the wind. 

JWL Transport towed away the charred truck, and the roads fully opened up again at 4:39 pm. Foster said the state Department of Transportation will help to clear the debris left behind from the accident.