Tisbury volunteer firefighters led the way in mobilizing a massive effort to quickly contain a huge fire inside a metal boat shed Saturday afternoon at Maciel Marine in Vineyard Haven.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the state fire marshal and state police, but is believed to be accidental, Tisbury fire chief John Schilling said.
The first call for the three-alarm fire came in just before 1 p.m. on Saturday. Mr. Schilling said Island fire departments have a well-rehearsed automatic response plan for certain high-risk areas of the Vineyard and the area around Maciel Marine on Lagoon Pond Road, a coastal, heavily-built area, is one.
“I immediately dispatched Edgartown and Oak Bluffs on mutual aid,” the chief said. He said the building was closed and locked and the first task at hand for firefighters was to set up and prepare for entry. Explosions could be heard inside. “We needed to establish a solid water supply and cool the exterior of the building,” he said. “Everything is burning and boiling inside a steel metal structure.” He continued, describing the contents of the building:
“About a dozen boats, some on the ground, some on racks, a couple of vehicles, two dozen outboard engines, 55-gallon drums of waste oil, clean oil, diesel oil, propane tanks, solvents, paint and lubricants . . . scary is a good word.”
No one was injured in the blaze.
Lagoon Pond Road was closed off and volunteer firefighting teams surrounded the area with ladder trucks and pumpers. Oak Bluffs set up at the Tisbury Marketplace; Edgartown set up near the Lagoon avenue apartments and Tisbury was at the boatyard. Thick, acrid smoke hung in the air.
Once the building was cooled, a hole was cut in the rear for entry, and firefighters were able to douse the interior, containing the fire.
Mr. Schilling said with all the water and petroleum products the site quickly became a hazardous waste concern as well, and through the quick use of booms, pads and even the fire hoses which acted as natural booms, everything was contained, a stone’s throw from the Lagoon.
Over the next two days the cleanup continued, with Clean Harbors, a private hazardous waste cleanup company, on site at the boatyard. Mr. Schilling said insurance adjustors believed the building was still sound; an estimate of damage is being prepared.
He said the origin of the fire had been pinpointed to an area of the building where a set of 55-gallon drums containing oil were believed to have ruptured.
The chief said Tisbury firefighters saw much damage to their own equipment from the fire.
Other responders included environmental police, the town harbor master, Coast Guard, police, and EMS.
“It was quite an impressive regional response,” the fire chief said. “It’s what I love about the Vineyard. Something like this happens and you turn around, and everyone is there.”