Nantucket Veranda House hotel fire likely caused by smoking materials

NANTUCKET – The massive fire at the historic Veranda House bed & breakfast on Nantucket Saturday was most likely sparked by “improper disposal of smoking materials,” fire officials say.

State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey, along with Nantucket Fire Chief Stephen Murphy and Police Chief William Pittman, said Monday investigators figured out that the fire started under the front porch, which is where hotel trash was stored.

The inn’s alarm system was working but it was not required to have sprinklers as it was a historic building that dated back to the 1600s.   

“This fire was first reported at about 6:45 Saturday morning, when many guests were likely still asleep,” Murphy said. “It began beneath the front porch, where smoke alarms inside couldn’t immediately detect it. 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.”  

Three buildings, including the 18-room hotel, are total losses following the fire. An off-duty fire captain and several civilians ran into the hotel and began evacuating people as the flames began to spread.

It took 12 hours to finally put out the fire. Fire departments from several Cape Cod towns took ferries to the island to help knock down the flames.

Fire engulfs the Veranda House bed & breakfast on Nantucket.

Nantucket Police

Fire officials are stressing the importance of fully extinguishing any smoking materials.

“Smoking materials are the leading cause of fatal fires,” Ostroskey said. “If you still smoke, or if you have guests who do, it’s extremely important to be sure all smoking materials are fully extinguished. Never stub out a butt on a porch or stairway or toss it in a planter, mulch, or debris, where it can smolder unseen before igniting a fire. Use a heavy ashtray with water or sand and keep it on a sturdy surface. And be sure to put it out, all the way, every time.”  

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