Police, firefighters and the state fire marshal are investigating a rare arson in the Tower Hill neighborhood of Edgartown, and the owner of the home is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest in the case.

A guest house owned by E. Burke Ross Jr. on Dunham Road was broken into sometime in the early hours of Monday morning this week; Edgartown police said burglars started a fire inside the house, cut a line to a propane tank connected to a heater, causing the house to fill with flammable propane gas, and turned on an electric kitchen oven in an apparent attempt to accelerate the fire.

Fortunately the plan failed, thanks in part to a quick response by Edgartown police officer Michael Snowden. The first person to arrive on the scene, Officer Snowden saw flames, broke into the house and, unaware of the volatile situation with the propane tank line that had been cut, extinguished the blaze that had been set on a pool table.

When volunteer firefighters arrived a few minutes later and detected the presence of gas — or more accurately the absence of oxygen, using a special gas monitor — Edgartown fire chief Peter Shemeth evacuated the house and successfully shut off the gas at its source.

No one was home at the time of the incident; Mr. Ross lives in Edgartown and Palm Beach, Fla.

The veteran fire chief said the incident marks a disturbing moment for a small town like Edgartown.

“I’m hoping, number one, that this is an isolated incident and that the intent of the person or persons who were involved was not to injure people — because given that mixture, the potential was definitely there,” Mr. Shemeth said. “The sooner this is resolved and someone is charged and we know what happened, I’ll be able to sleep a little bit easier.”

He said it appeared that the fire may have been started on the pool table with a towel soaked in alcohol from a Jim Beam whiskey bottle found nearby. The incident occurred in the game room of the garage-guest house that is adjacent to the main house owned by Mr. Ross on Tower Hill overlooking the inner Edgartown harbor. There is also a boat house on the property; the neighborhood is thickly built with homes and guest houses.

“If something had happened, it was close enough to the neighbors on both sides that we would have had issues with adjoining properties,” Mr. Shemeth said.

Edgartown police Det. Sgt. Chris Dolby said on Tuesday that the state fire marshal has already begun an investigation into the incident, and that items had been seized at the home and sent off for fingerprint analysis.

Police said a number of items were stolen from the house, including stereo and home entertainment equipment and valuable scrimshaw.

The owner of the home took out a half-page advertisement in today’s Gazette listing what was stolen and offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Mr. Ross also wrote a letter to the editor thanking the town police and fire departments for their quick response. “The residents of Edgartown are truly fortunate to have such a fine and dedicated police department and fire department,” he wrote. The letter appears on Page Ten in today’s edition; the advertisement appears on Page Seven.

Police were first alerted to the incident when an automatic smoke alarm went off at the Ross home just after 2:30 a.m. More often than not, smoke alarm calls are false alarms, but Mr. Shemeth said the fact that multiple alarms had gone off was a clue that this could be the real thing. “At that point everybody turns an ear to listen to what is going on,” he said.

Officer Snowden was on patrol and in the vicinity and the first to respond. He saw flames inside the building and forced his way through a door to put out the fire. Also responding was Edgartown police officer Stephanie Immelt.

When the fire department arrived a few minutes later, the propane problem was discovered and addressed.

Chief Shemeth said every fire truck responded to the scene as did the Edgartown ambulance and about 40 to 50 emergency responders, mainly volunteer firefighters.

The police incident report said the initial investigation in the house turned up the bottle of Jim Beam lying next to a charred towel on the floor near the fire. “The electric range had been turned to high, all burners hot and the door was open,” the incident report said.

After the gas was shut off and the home declared safe for entry again, the caretaker was called. During a walk through the house with the caretaker, police took note of stolen items, including a stereo, compact disc player and DVD player. Cabinet doors had been left open.

There was no sign of forced entry. “We are treating this incident as a burglary/arson,” the police report said.

Mr. Shemeth described the scene as extremely volatile. “We are very fortunate that the proper ratio of propane to oxygen did not find the ignition source,” he said, adding: “The stove was electric, but you still have a coil in the oven that would be hot enough to be a source of ignition . . . there was also a furnace downstairs.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the Edgartown police anonymous crime tip line at 774-310-1190 (call or text), or e-mail crimetips@edgartown-ma.us.