North Falmouth Home Destroyed By Fire
By: Michael C. Bailey
The North Falmouth house that was the subject of a contentious and controversial move from Chapoquoit Island seven years ago burned to the ground in a spectacular fire last night.
The three-story home at 14 Shannons Way was fully involved in fire when the Falmouth Fire Rescue Department arrived on the scene after 10 PM. Flames were leaping “40 to 50 feet in the air,” said Chief Mark D. Sullivan.
“It was the most intense scene I’ve ever seen in my life,” said neighbor Dana Phares of 32 Wild Harbor Road, who called the fire in at 10:15 PM.
Mr. Phares said his daughter Isabella was in her upstairs room doing homework when she saw the fire and brought it to her father’s attention. “I looked out the back window and saw the flames,” he said, at which point he called the fire department.
Chief Sullivan reported from the scene this morning that the department “went to a second alarm right away,” and at the height of the fire Falmouth’s five engines and two ladder trucks were joined by vehicles and firefighters from the Bourne, Mashpee, and Otis fire departments.
“We had to assign an engine company to patrol the neighborhood,” due to the fact the wind was blowing flaming debris from the scene, Chief Sullivan said. “It was raining embers all over the place…the embers were quite an issue.”
Embers sparked a number of smaller brush fires and set fire to the wood-shingled roof of a home about 500 yards away, the chief said. “We were very fortunate it wasn’t as windy as it was earlier in the day.”
From Chapoquoit to North Falmouth
In 2005 Eric McLaughlin purchases the historic home for an 1891 silver dollar, to match its age, saving it from demolition.
By March, the process of moving the 100-ton home begins, transported by barge up the coast in two pieces. It arrives on Old Silver Beach on Easter morning.
Mr. McLaughlin is forced to cut the home in six sections so as not to damage trees after neighbors raise concerns.
It is finally delivered to Wild Harbor at the end of May 2005 and erected on a path named Shannons Way, after Mr. McLaughlin's daughter.
Mr. Phares said at one point he was outside with a garden hose dousing embers as they landed on his property, “and I had to turn my face away because the fire was so hot.”
An engine company remained on the property all night to make sure the fire did not reignite, and as of this morning firefighters were still on-site dealing with hot spots.
No one was injured, and the cause of the fire has yet to be determined.
The home was not occupied, but Mr. Phares said there have been people working inside the house almost since it was first moved to the property in 2005. “People have been in there working on it since I can remember,” he said. “People were always inside doing something.”
Former owner Eric M. McLaughlin of North Falmouth moved the home from Chapoquoit Island in West Falmouth after purchasing it for $1 to save it from demolition. In March 2005 the home was cut apart and moved by barge to Old Silver Beach. It was then taken by flatbed truck to Wild Harbor Road.
Mr. McLaughlin was chairman of the Falmouth Conservation Commission when it held a number of public hearings on the project, which the commission eventually approved; the hearings were called due to the fact that the move brought the house ashore at Old Silver Beach.
Mr. McLaughlin later resigned as chairman but remained a committee member.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection appealed the commission’s decision, but dropped its appeal in June 2005.
The Falmouth Assessor’s Office stated that the home was foreclosed upon in 2011 and on December 12, 2011, it was purchased by the Richard M. Frucci Trust of Alton Bay, New Hampshire. That same day, it was then sold for $226,000 to REIC LLC of West Roxbury.
Assessor’s records indicated that the home’s assessed value was $409,700.
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