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Trash fire caused Nantucket’s Veranda House inn to burn down, firefighters say

The fire started under the front porch where hotel trash was kept, firefighters said.

A fire burned down the historic Veranda House hotel on Nantucket on July 9, 2022. Deane Geddes, Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror

The fire that burned down the historic Veranda House inn on Nantucket this past weekend was caused by a trash fire under the porch of the hotel, firefighters said Monday.

The massive fire at the iconic hotel, which was built in 1684, was most likely caused by “improper disposal of smoking materials,” officials said in a news release.

A joint investigation by the Nantucket Fire Department, Nantucket Police Department, and the State Police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit determined that the fire began under the front porch where hotel trash was stored, the release said.

Nantucket Fire Chief Stephen Murphy said the fire was first reported around 6:45 a.m. Saturday morning when some guests were still sleeping.

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Because it began under the front porch, he said, smoke alarms inside the building didn’t detect it right away.

“We’re extremely fortunate that everyone made it out safely, and I want to recognize the heroic efforts of community members whose immediate action under dangerous conditions helped to save lives,” Murphy said in the release.

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The Saturday morning fire at the three-story, 18-room hotel spread to two nearby buildings and caused major damage, firefighters said. All three buildings have been declared a total loss.

Firefighters battled the fire for more than 12 hours before finally extinguishing it around 8:00 p.m., the release said.

Four firefighters were injured on scene and were taken to a hospital, but they have all since been released.

“Smoking materials are the leading cause of fatal fires,” State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey said in the release. “If you still smoke, or if you have guests who do, it’s extremely important to be sure all smoking materials are fully extinguished.”

Ostroskey advises that people avoid putting cigarettes out on a porch or a stairway, or tossing them into a planter, mulch, or debris where they can smolder unnoticed before igniting a fire. He said people should use a heavy ashtray with water or sand that is kept on a sturdy surface.

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“Be sure to put it out, all the way, every time,” he said.

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