A home on outer Main street Vineyard Haven was completely destroyed by fire Monday, in an event involving an Islandwide emergency response that spilled onto surrounding streets for hours in the residential neighborhood.

Tisbury ladder truck played a central role in effort to contain blaze. — Tim Johnson

The home, situated at 319 Main street on the corner of Owen Little Way, was razed by firefighters late Monday after an hours-long effort battling the blaze. The fire sent smoke billowing into the air that was seen for miles around.

The two-story house was formerly the home of the late Sheldon and Lucy Hackney; their daughter Elizabeth McBride acquired the home last summer.

The residents of the house were on the Island but not home at the time of the fire, Tisbury fire chief Greg Leland confirmed in an interview with the Gazette Tuesday morning. He also confirmed that two dogs had died in the blaze. No one else was harmed, the chief said.

The call went out at 12:48 p.m. Monday. Chief Leland said when firefighters arrived at the scene, flames were showing on all sides of the building.

Firefighters and EMS from Tisbury, Oak Bluffs and Edgartown were all at the scene, along with utility crews from Eversource. The Tisbury ladder truck played a central role in efforts to reach flames shooting through the roof and out of second-story windows.

Teams of firefighters on the ground trained hoses at both the upper and lower parts of the house.

In the first hour, Chief Leland said firefighters made strong progress. At one point, he said more than 4,000 gallons of water per minute were being pumped onto the flames.

Main street was closed from Tashmoo avenue on, as trucks and emergency response vehicles lined the surrounding roads.

Flames engulfed second floor. — Mark Alan Lovewell

At 2 p.m. many of the flames had been doused, with firefighters pouring water into the smoldering house and wetting down hot spots.

For a time the charred house remained standing, its shingled sidewalls blackened, windows blown out.

But fire crews ultimately were unable to reach the interior of the home with water, and the fire continued to spread, the chief said.

“All of that played a factor as to why we decided to go the route of taking the building down,” he said.

He said a third party contractor, Maciel and Sons, was brought in at the end of the day to demolish the house in order for firefighters to reach all the flames and finish the work.

Weather conditions were chilly with intermittent rain and little wind, aiding first responders in the effort, the chief said.

“That’s actually the kind of weather conditions we prefer,” he said.

Chief Leland said the fire remains under investigation, but he said it’s unlikely a definitive cause will be found since the building was destroyed.

In a statement issued the day after the fire, Tisbury town officials recapped the events that had transpired, including demolition of the house, and offered condolences to the homeowners.

“While this is a tragedy for the owners and their family, we take solace in the fact that there was
no loss of human life for the owners or the responding emergency personnel, the statement said in part. “We send our heartfelt condolences to the owners for the loss of their dogs that did not make it out of the building.”

The statement also praised the work of firefighters and emergency responders, including the fire chief and his deputy, and the mutual aid partners from other towns.

“All town of Tisbury departments stand ready to provide whatever assistance we can to the owners
as they deal with this terrible loss.”

More pictures.