Fire Destroys Main Shop Building at Quissett Harbor Boatyard
By: Brent Runyon
The main shop building at the Quissett Harbor Boatyard caught fire this afternoon and was quickly engulfed in flames.
No one was injured in the fire, but more than half of the historic building originally built in the 1930s was destroyed.
Billowing white smoke rose from the roof as firefighters from Falmouth, Mashpee, Bourne and the Massachusetts Military Reservation worked to extinguish the two-alarm fire around 3:30 this afternoon. The smoke was clearly visible from more than a mile away above the tree line.
The fire started roughly an hour earlier. Owner Weatherly B. Dorris said she was sitting in her office in another building about 20 feet away with her back to the shop when she heard a crackling sound behind her.
“I just heard a weird noise,” she said. When she turned, she saw flames shooting out of the skylights. She called 911, she said, but by the time firefighters arrived several minutes later the building was fully engulfed.
“It’s been in the family for 55 years,” said Ms. Dorris as she watched the fire from the dock.
The building was closed for the winter, Ms. Dorris said, and only used for boat storage. There is also a kitchen and a workshop in the main shop.
The heat was off, she said, but the electricity was still on. “The only thing I can think is it was electrical,” she said.
Falmouth Fire Chief Mark D. Sullivan said there was no alarm in the building, so firefighters were not able to get there in time to save the structure. The fire did not appear to be suspicious, he said. Chief Sullivan said he and Deputy Chief Michael Small would conduct the investigation into the cause of the fire.
The significance of the building was on the minds of many residents as they gathered to watch from the parking lot nearby. Susan F. Witzell of Evangeline Road said the building was part of the fabric of Quissett Harbor, and could be rebuilt but never replaced.
Still unknown this afternoon is whether the historic sailboats inside the main shop building were destroyed in the fire. The 12 1/2-foot Herreshoff sailboats were stored on the ground level of the building, away from the most affected area of the building.
Many of the boats were built in the 1930s, Ms. Dorris said, and are often seen in sailboat races on Quissett Harbor.
Sippewissett Road was closed while firefighters worked to extinguish the flames with a ladder truck and three fire engines from Falmouth.
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