Heroes Risk Lives to Rescue Hotel Guests from Massive Fire That 'Could've Burned the Town Down'
On Saturday morning, Nantucket Fire Department Capt. Nate Barber was enjoying a day off by strolling through the quaint Massachusetts island town with his wife to get a cup of coffee.
As they walked, he spotted smoke. Off-duty or not, Barber was still a firefighter, so he ditched all thoughts of coffee and ran to find the source of the emergency.
“I started running toward it,” he told WCVB-TV in Boston. “I think I ran for about two blocks, and I came around the corner and realized it was the hotel that was on fire.”
“The hotel” was the Veranda House. According to a news release from the fire department, the historic inn had fire extinguishers and alarms but was built before sprinkler systems were required, making it a tinderbox.
Upon reaching the building, Barber immediately entered and started looking for people.
“I went into the hallway, and the hallway was filled with smoke, and I heard somebody, and I yelled for them, and I was able to find two people in a dark staircase in that hallway,” he said.
He guided them to a window, where they were able to escape. He also bumped into a good Samaritan, Peter Georgantas, who had also spotted the blaze and rushed to help.
Georgantas had found a ladder and propped it up against the building so that people escaping onto the roof had a way to get down.
“I grabbed the ladder put it up to the top of the porch, went up and helped some people get off the roof,” he told WCVB.
After the two people were safely off the roof, Barber and Georgantas went back into the burning building to look for others in need of help.
Thanks to their efforts and the efforts of the responding fire departments, everyone made it out of the inn alive — though Barber paid for his spur-of-the-moment heroics with an overnight stay at the hospital for heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation.
Three other firefighters also had to go to the hospital but were released the same day.
The fire spread to two nearby buildings before being extinguished, and all three were a total loss.
“The fire did extend to two buildings close to the original fire building,” the news release stated. “Damage to all the structures involved is extensive with all of the buildings involved in fire being total losses. There is no estimated costs of damage at this time.”
But it could have been so much worse.
Barber said the fire was probably the biggest he’d ever seen. He is convinced that the blaze could have taken out the whole town and is immensely proud of the combined efforts that day that saved not only lives but livelihoods.
“I think this fire could’ve burned the town down,” he said. “The Nantucket Fire Department, which has limited resources and only about 20 active, you know, career firefighters that respond to fires regularly, were able to stop the whole town from burning down.”
Neighbors pitched in, too, bringing food and water for the firefighters. Other local partner hotels provided accommodations for the 10 people displaced by the massive fire.
“I would like to further state the heroic efforts of several community members including Patrick Marks, Jim McIntosh and off duty Captain Nathan Barber (and I am sure I may be missing some names) saved lives on Saturday,” the news release continued. “They all entered into life threatening conditions in order to warn, rescue and remove people within the building. Their bravery will not go unnoticed.
“Also the dedication and resolve of the Town’s firefighters to respond from home to combat the large scale fire is not unusual but will again be recognized.
“Lastly to all the outpouring of water, Gatorade, food, and thoughts from the community. The Department members THANK YOU.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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