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Three homes destroyed in devastating fire on Prudence Island

Fire chief: Without new boat, three more homes could have been lost

By Jim McGaw
Posted 1/22/21

PRUDENCE ISLAND — Three homes were completely destroyed by a late-night fire on Prudence Island Thursday.

One woman managed to escape safely from the home at which the fire apparently …

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Three homes destroyed in devastating fire on Prudence Island

Fire chief: Without new boat, three more homes could have been lost

Posted

PRUDENCE ISLAND — Three homes were completely destroyed by a late-night fire on Prudence Island Thursday.

One woman managed to escape safely from the home at which the fire apparently originated — 0830 Narragansett Ave, according to Portsmouth Fire Chief Paul Ford.

“The fire marshal, through his investigation, said the wood stove in the occupied home was on. Something failed and the heat from that stove initiated the fire,” Chef Ford said.

The other two homes destroyed, at 14 and 15 Herreshoff Drive, were not occupied. The fire extended to two other nearby homes, at 0836 and 0824 Narragansett Ave., but damages were limited to the exterior.

Chief Ford said as bad as the fire was, it could have been worse. 

“We have a new boat,” he said, noting that the Bristol Fire Department, which also responded, has a new vessel as well. “Our response time is much quicker now. If we had had our old boat, we would have lost three more homes.”

The Prudence Island Volunteer Fire Department was first on the scene, and the Portsmouth Fire Department responded just before 11 p.m. Thursday to the fire, which was near the ferry landing.

“There were two tankers on the scene, but they ran out of water quick,” Chief Ford said. “Bristol’s boat tied up to the ferry boat and literally pumped water (from the bay) over to the fire scene. That became our water source.”

There was a cistern nearby, but the incident manager decided to bypass it, the chief said.

Firefighters from Middletown, Newport, Providence, Cranston, and Warwick also responded to the fire.

Islanders expressed their horror about the fire and offered well-wishes to the homeowners on the “Heard Around the Dock on Prudence Island” Facebook page.

“God Bless these Firefighters — they are heroes,” wrote Cathy Burnham. “My thoughts and prayers are with the families who lost their beautiful Prudence Island homes.

“So grateful that no one was hurt,” wrote Valerie LaScola. “Thank you to all the firefighters, especially the Prudence Island firefighters, without you it could have been more damages.”

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Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.