When a fire tore through a historic Nantucket hotel and several nearby buildings Saturday morning, people from across the island -- and Cape Cod -- came together to overcome what many called a tragedy.
Heavy flames engulfed the historic Veranda House hotel after the fire started at 6:46 a.m. Saturday. Hours later, part of the building collapsed, and smoke was still rising high enough to be seen from the ferry.
Nantucket Police Department released aerial footage of smoke rising from the roof of the smoldering building.
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An off-duty fire captain and civilians helped get guests out of the building and save lives, according to Nantucket's fire chief.
The interim president and CEO of Nantucket Cottage Hospital also said the swift response of firefighters and emergency personnel saved many lives Saturday.
Jeanette Ives Erickson additionally credited the selfless actions of several civilians nearby.
Locals looked to lend immediate support. Everyone who was staying in the hotel on Step Lane was accounted for and has been put up in other hotels on the island.
"It was just heartbreaking news," said Nate Barret, the manager of a neighboring hotel. "Then we all kind of got together and tried to help out and everybody in the neighborhood and downtown started showing up with clothes, food."
All three floors were on fire when fire crews arrived, and the flames were too big for firefighters to enter the 18-room hotel, officials said. When the fire started, only five firefighters were on duty.
Two firefighters were taken to a nearby hospital for possible heat exhaustion and one firefighter was being treated for a back injury.
Erickson confirmed to NBC10 Boston later Saturday that "several individuals were treated at Nantucket Cottage Hospital for injuries sustained while responding to the fire at Veranda House hotel."
Officials have yet to say what they believe caused the fire.
The hotel was a total loss, as well as two neighboring homes, fire officials said.
"It's a bad fire in a wooden town and you always worry about the spread of the fire," said Dr. Tim Lepore, who tended to the firefighters' primary needs, like oxygen, and helped set up a triage.
He works at Nantucket Cottage Hospital, where Erickson works as the interim president. She aided firefighters as soon as she arrived.
"We began by helping them to hydrate, putting ice packs on them, taking their vital signs, to make sure they were safe to work," she said.
Firefighters from the Cape, including Hyannis and Yarmouth, caught high-speed ferries to provide relief to their fellow fireman.
"The thing I said to my husband is, we're on vacation having the best day of our life while somebody else is having potentially the worst day of their life," one visitor said.
Dating to the 1600s, the Veranda House is one of several hotels owned by the Nantucket Resort Collection.
"The safety and security of our guests, team, and community is our top priority and we will continue to work closely with emergency responders and safety authorities," the hotel posted in a written statement on Saturday. "The Veranda House team is deeply grateful to the Nantucket Fire Department and first responders for their quick action taken during this incident."
July is peak season on Nantucket, one of Massachusetts' top tourist destinations, and its hotels are frequently booked all summer.