Early morning fire damages Gothic Inn
Firefighters, rescue, and medical personnel were dispatched to battle an early morning fire at the Gothic Inn on Friday, Oct. 11. The fire was extinguished in less than three hours and there were no injuries.
According to the run report filed by the department, crews were dispatched at 6:43 a.m. “for a possible electrical fire with smoke showing at the Gothic Inn on Dodge Street... The building had been evacuated prior to responders’ arrival. Once fire personnel were on-scene, the source/fire was located in the rear of the northeast corner room (mechanical room) on the ground level, where personnel found the panel box was melted, a wire melted to the metal gas line, through the rubber coating on the line, and there was a hole in the gas line caused by the electrical spark.”
The report continued, “The fire then spread through... the walls, floor/ceiling from the ground level to the second floor, where it stopped.”
The crew broke several windows on the second floor for venting, according to the report. “No injuries were reported/treated for any firemen or any of the building occupants at the scene and the scene was cleared by 9:30 a.m.” A total of 31 members of the fire department, and seven members of the rescue squad, helped extinguish the fire.
According to the report and one guest staying at the inn, it was the quick thinking of one other guest that made all the difference.
“It should be noted that a key factor in the successful outcome of this event was the fact that the building was occupied at the time and one of the occupants called 911 to alert fire personnel,” the report stated.
Guest Bethany Morris said that what could have been a terrifying experience turned out to be memorable. “Everybody came out to help. The Surf — everybody was so wonderful,” said Morris. The Surf Hotel offered to put up the displaced guests, and a person she identified as “Bill” “helped us do laundry at the Gables” because the clothes smelled like smoke. Morris, who said she grew up on Block Island, also had high praise for the owners, Ben and Toube Wohl. “They are so amazing,” she said.
The manager of the inn, Alton Bentley, sent out the following message:
“On behalf of (owners) Ben, Toube (Wohl), staff and guests of the Gothic Inn, I'd like to use this medium to say a very big thank you to the Block Island Fire Department/First responders, the Police, Chamber of Commerce, The Block Island Beach House, our neighbors and friends. The community in general. Words are not enough to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation. As I stood aside and watched carefully with my frightened eyes and fast-beating heart rate, I humbly say a prayer giving thanks for you all. We are absolutely grateful the entire building wasn't engulfed and that damage done over this time is repairable. Thanks for the continued support. We appreciate all the sympathy extended to us. Keep us in your prayers as we move forward from this horrific disaster.”
The run report concludes by saying, “Due to the extreme high winds of storm ‘Melissa,’ if the building had been vacant, the outcome could have been devastating.”
The island’s churches are also sponsoring a day to honor the island’s first responders. A message sent to The Block Island Times by Pastor Peter Preiser of Harbor Church stated:
“To honor our volunteer Fire, Rescue and Police squads on Block Island, the Block Island Ecumenical Ministries group will be sponsoring a celebration in their honor at St. Andrews Parish Hall on Sunday Oct. 27 at 3 p.m. The entire island community is encouraged to come out in support of our First Responders as we celebrate their contributions to our town with guest speakers, stories, prayers for blessings, and a time of refreshments.”