‘Miracle’: Off-duty firefighter who ran into Nantucket hotel fire credits team effort
NANTUCKET, Mass. — The State Fire Marshal has been on scene in Nantucket Sunday investigating the cause of a massive fire that destroyed the historic Veranda House Hotel this weekend.
So far investigators say they do not believe this fire was intentionally set.
The Nantucket Fire Department says the building was last inspected on April 12, 2022, and there were working alarms, but there was no sprinkler system in the building. The fire department says sprinklers were not required by code when the hotel was built.
The Nantucket Fire Department says thanks to a few heroes, lives were saved.
One of those heroes was off-duty fire captain Nate Barber, who was just released from the hospital Sunday afternoon after being treated for smoke inhalation.
“I was with my wife, and we were getting a cup of coffee,” said Capt. Barber.
Capt. Barber was off the job Saturday morning grabbing coffee in downtown Nantucket when he saw a huge plume of smoke.
Barber says he started running towards the fire and saw the historic Veranda House Hotel was already engulfed in flames.
Without any gear, he ran inside after a man told him his son was still in there.
“Went up the staircase and it was just untenable, it was you know, smoke, really thick, no visibility,” said Captain Barber.
Barber says that man’s son must have made it out on his own since he wasn’t in there.
Then he saw a couple screaming for help in the hallway, filled with smoke.
“I did a quick search and scream, yell for more people and didn’t hear anybody,” said Barber. “So I went out the window with them, and just by the stroke of luck, God’s will whatever it may be, there was actually a ladder the neighbor had been using because he had just done a roof on his house.”
Capt. Barber says a man secured the neighbor’s ladder to help them climb down while the roof was still on fire.
Then Barber and that man ran back into the hotel to check all three floors while firefighters got to the scene.
“The Nantucket Fire department is a small fire department with limited resources, and they put out a giant fire and they saved a lot of people and a lot of property,” said Capt. Barber.
The hotel, which was built in the 1600s, is now charred to pieces, and fire crews say the two buildings next door are also a total loss.
But Barber says what matters most is everyone made it out safely thanks to a team effort from this community.
“It’s a miracle really, and it was a miracle that so many people, whether they were firefighters, civilians, neighbors or hotel staff, they were all able to chip in,” said Captain Barber.
The Veranda House Hotel says it’s reaching out to all of their guests who have reservations coming up in July to figure out next steps now that the hotel is forced to close.
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