NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — The historic Block Island inn destroyed by fire over the weekend will soon be torn down, 12 News has learned.
The Harborside Inn, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, went up in flames late Friday night.
The fire prompted an extensive response from departments across the state. The U.S. Coast Guard shipped firefighters over to the island from Point Judith in droves as the Block Island Ferry transported ladder trucks, engines and additional equipment.
In total, Rhode Island State Fire Marshal Timothy McLaughlin estimates that nearly 80 firefighters were rushed to the island from the mainland overnight.
“The response was unbelievable,” he said. “Kudos to everyone who was involved.”
McLaughlin tells 12 News the hotel has been deemed a total loss and will be demolished later his week.
“It’s definitely a life and safety hazard, collapse-wise,” he said. “It is an unstable building at this point.”
The fire appears to have started in the hotel’s first-floor kitchen near an exhaust vent, according to McLaughlin. The flames spread quickly through the hotel’s three floors and into the attic.
“It’s an old building,” McLaughlin said. “The wood is old, like most of the buildings over there … They have been there for a long time. So, once a fire starts … it just goes.”
No one was injured and the cause remains under investigation.
The Block Island School served as an emergency shelter for displaced hotel guests. New Shoreham Town Manager Maryanne Crawford tells 12 News most of those guests have since left the island or have found accommodations elsewhere.
“It’s really sad to see this happen,” Crawford said, adding that at least 10 nearby businesses were impacted by the fire.
Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos visited the island Monday morning to assess the damage. She said the state will be assisting the affected businesses and will help them get back on their feet.
The town issued a state of emergency over the weekend due to limited power and water supply. Crawford urged residents to conserve water until the supply returns to normal.
The Block Island Ferry schedule has since returned to normal but was briefly disrupted over the weekend as additional manpower and equipment were shipped back and forth.