A carelessly discarded cigarette was the cause of a massive fire that destroyed several buildings in downtown Nantucket, including the historic Veranda House hotel in July, fire officials confirmed Wednesday.
Improperly disposed of smoking materials were announced as the suspected cause of the blaze, officials previously said. The Department of Fire Services confirmed Wednesday the careless disposal of a cigarette was the cause. They remind smokers and their hosts to use heavy ashtrays that include water and sand to put out smoking materials.
The fire began where trash was stored, under the front porch.
"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," Nantucket Fire Chief Stephen Murphy said in a statement.
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State Fire Marshal Ostroskey noted that smoking materials, like cigarette butts, "are the leading cause of fatal fires."
Toward the end of July, hotel management posted a statement to Facebook saying that while they were "heartbroken" by what happened, they intend to rebuilt.
"While the physical and emotional impact of the loss cannot be undone, we are committed to continuing to work closely with the town, our neighbors and members of the community in the coming months and years to rebuild the Veranda House and help restore the neighborhood around it. This work will serve to remind us all of the resilience, courage and hope reflected by the people of Nantucket," the statement read in part.
What happened the day of the fire
The fire began about 6:45 a.m., "when many guests were likely still asleep," Murphy said. The three-story, 18-room Veranda House hotel was totally destroyed, along with the two other buildings that the fire spread to. The fire wasn't extinguished until about 8 p.m.
Everyone made it out from the fire, thanks, in part, to the efforts of a Boston man.
Four firefighters were taken to the hospital after the blaze, but all were released.
Several fire departments — Centerville-Osterville-Marstons Mills, Dennis, Harwich, Hyannis, Sandwich and Yarmouth — sent teams by ferry Sunday to help relieve the small Nantucket Fire Department.
That was some of the help from across the Cape and Islands that Nantucket police issued thanks for Sunday.
The extensive damage caused the Veranda House and the nearby Chapman House hotel, both run by the Nantucket Resort Collection, to close, the organization said in a statement over the weekend.
"If you have an existing reservation that will be affected (currently through July) we will contact you soon," according to the Nantucket Resort Collection.