Elders evacuated due to fire

Fire breaks out at Havenside senior housing complex.

Tisbury and Oak Bluffs firefighters respond to a call at Havenside Apartments in Vineyard Haven Tuesday afternoon. —Hayley Duffy

Tisbury and Oak Bluffs firefighters responded Tuesday to a kitchen fire at Havenside Apartments that forced an evacuation of the affordable senior housing complex.

No one was injured in the blaze at 145 Main St. in Vineyard Haven, but it wasn’t clear Wednesday when the nine residents would be able to return to their homes. 

The fire started in the kitchen of an unoccupied apartment, Tisbury Fire Chief Greg Leland told The Times. 

The blaze didn’t spread to the seven other apartments or other parts of the building, he said. Volunteer firemen tore down parts of the ceiling to make sure there were no more hot spots.

Lucinda Kirk, property manager for Havenside Apartments, saw smoke come out of the window of the farthest-right apartment on the first floor, and called 911. The apartment had been cleaned out an hour before, and was empty.

“We have a lot of false alarms, because our fire alarms are very sensitive,” Kirk said. This is the first fire at Havenside Apartments, which was erected in 1977, she said.

Tisbury Police Sergeant Max Sherman was one of the first to respond to Kirk’s call shortly before 3:30 pm.

“Everyone’s out, everyone’s OK,” Sherman said as he directed traffic away from the apartment complex. Half of Main Street was closed off, and traffic was directed up Church Street until around 5 pm. 

“The best part is no one is hurt,” Kirk said. 

Though allowed to go back into the building to collect medications and personal belongings, the nine residents were not allowed to stay there last night. They were provided temporary shelter, Nelson Wirtz, Oak Bluffs fire chief, said. 

Red Cross volunteers arrived on the scene after Wirtz left. Management at the apartment complex arranged for accommodation at a hotel in Vineyard Haven, Jeff Hall, communications manager for the Massachusetts Red Cross, said.

Two Red Cross volunteers met with the displaced residents Wednesday to open disaster assistance case files for them. They will have access to financial assistance and other resources provided by the nonprofit, Hall said.

The fire department uses mechanical ventilation, such as fans, to clear out the smoke, but soot, which leaves a toxic and carcinogenic residue, still has to be removed.

Wirtz said the fire department isn’t in charge of the cleanup, and he does not know when the residents will be allowed back.



  1. A heartfelt thank you to all the firefighters, EMTs and police that came to the rescue this afternoon. You put your all into to helping the residents at Havenside.

    With much gratitude,
    a resident of building A

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