EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — North Kingstown Fire Chief Scott Kettelle said a plan hatched about one year ago helped prevent Friday’s fire at a historic Block Island hotel from becoming worse.
“Approximately a year ago the fire chief of Block Island and myself began discussion about the need for a plan if there is a catastrophic event on the island,” Kettelle said.
The plan, according to Kettelle, first called for three fire boats to head over to Block Island to establish a water supply.
“The town of New Shoreham has a very limited water supply on their municipal water system -very limited- and it doesn’t bode well to have a fire,” he said. “Each hose line from a boat will produce a supply anywhere between 1,000 and 1,500 gallons per minute to a fire fight.”
But the planning went beyond just Block Island and North Kingstown officials. Fire departments from across southern Rhode Island, including Narragansett and South Kingstown, were involved in the plans as well.
“About 10 minutes after midnight, South Kingstown was already at Galilee ferry, setting up a logistics and staging area to coordinate incoming personnel units to get on to the coast guard vessels and the ferry,” Kettelle said.
Kettell also went on to praise the work of an off-duty firefighter from New York, who he said was helping direct a stream from a fire hose. He also said a retired Smithfield firefighter was on the island at the time and provided valuable input to crews on scene.
“This is when people step up when needed and take a crucial role,” Kettelle said. “Everyone stepped up when a call went out, people didn’t hesitate.”
Kettelle estimates that around 100 firefighters responded to the fire, which was difficult to battle, due to the structure of the building.
“The building style is old New England style structure, meaning there are no fire stops,” Kettelle stated, adding that the lack of fire stops allowed the flames to quickly spread from the first-floor kitchen to the roof.
Despite the immense damage, Kettelle said the fire could have been much worse, and he thanked all the departments involved in the effort on Block Island.
“We do it to support one another, we do it because property and lives are in jeopardy,” Kettelle said.