Block Island inn will be demolished after weekend fire

THE HARBORSIDE INN on Block Island, pictured in 2015, will be torn down after fire severely damaged the building on Saturday morning, WPRI-TV CBS 12 reported. / PBN FILE PHOTO/DAVID LEVESQUE
THE HARBORSIDE INN on Block Island, pictured in 2015, will be torn down after fire severely damaged the building on Saturday morning, WPRI-TV CBS 12 reported. / PBN FILE PHOTO/DAVID LEVESQUE

PROVIDENCE – The remnants of the building that housed the historic Harborside Inn on Block Island will be torn down after it was ravaged by fire early Saturday, WPRI-TV CBS 12 reported.

R.I. State Fire Marshal Timothy McLaughlin told WPRI Tuesday that the 36-room hotel has been deemed a total loss and will be demolished later this week.

“It’s definitely a life and safety hazard, collapse-wise,” he said. “It is an unstable building at this point. It’s an old building. 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.”

McLaughlin confirmed that the fire likely started in the hotel’s first-floor kitchen early Aug. 19, and spread quickly through the hotel’s three floors into the attic.

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The cause remains under investigation.

About 80 firefighters from around the state arrived by plane and ship to help fight the blaze at the hotel, which is located on Water Street in the Old Harbor Historic District, McLaughlin told WPRI. At least four ladder trucks were also brought in, the Block Island Chamber of Commerce told The Associated Press. 

All guests were evacuated, and no serious injuries were reported. The building also housed the Harbor Grill and the Orchid Lounge, and it had several street-level shops, including Wild Flowers Boutique and the Mad Hatter, a hat shop.

The Harborside was one of several hotels built in the late 1800s that line Water Street in the Old Harbor, some of the first sights that visitors see as they disembark from the ferry across the street. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Block Island School, which is the town’s emergency shelter, had been opened to hotel guests who were displaced. New Shoreham Town Manager Maryanne Crawford told WPRI most of those guests have since left the island or have found accommodations elsewhere.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report. With PBN reports.

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