Historic Rhode Island Hotel Engulfed in Flames, Triggering State of Emergency

A significant blaze broke out in a historic hotel located in the smallest town of the nation’s tiniest state on Friday night, leading to a state of emergency on Rhode Island‘s Block Island. The fire occurred at the Harborside Inn hotel in New Shoreham, prompting the evacuation of all guests and urging visitors to avoid the area.

Multiple agencies swiftly responded to the incident, and while guests were safely evacuated, the fire resulted in limited water and power resources. First responders remained on-site through Sunday morning, working on restoring water and power to nearby establishments. Ferry services to the island were also reinstated by Sunday morning, as reported by the Block Island Chamber of Commerce.

Due to the logistics of reaching the island, responders faced challenges in reaching the fire site. Crews required ferry transport to provide essential resources for extinguishing the flames. South Kingstown Deputy Fire Chief Tom Bradley mentioned, “Block Island has a fire department on the island, but this is the first time we’ve actually had to respond there.”

The hotel’s roof collapsed around 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning, and after extensive efforts, first responders managed to extinguish the fire later that morning. The Block Island Chamber of Commerce communicated a State of Emergency due to limited water and power in the town. Morning ferries were also temporarily halted on Saturday.

The historic Harborside Inn, known for its Victorian seaport charm, suffered significant damage. Block Island Reservations, responsible for managing the inn and nearby hotels, had their central office located at the site, resulting in damages to their cleaning supplies and inventory. This forced the business to cancel and refund reservations for all its properties on the island through August 24.

As the state grappled with the fire incident, it concurrently faced severe weather, including a tornado and severe thunderstorms, causing widespread tree damage. Rhode Island’s Governor Dan McKee expressed gratitude for the dedicated efforts of emergency responders and announced plans to assist affected small businesses in collaboration with the US Small Business Administration and the Rhode Island Commerce team.

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