Remembering the great Provincetown fire – 20 years later

Photo via Britt Crosby/capecodfd.com

PROVINCETOWN – February 10th, 1998 was a unseasonably mild night by February standards with relatively light winds. That evening a fire broke out that would threaten the entire town. It started at Whaler’s Wharf at 241 Commercial Street. The building was a former theater that had been renovated into a maze of small shops.

About 6:45 PM a foot heater was accidentally tipped over. With no sprinkler system or firewalls the fire raced through the large open space in the building and through the roof within minutes. Provincetown Firefighters responded quickly but knew they had major problems as flames quickly extended to the large wooden Crown and Anchor Motor Inn on the east side. and threatened Marine Specialties on the west side.

5 alarms were subsequently struck with numerous special calls for additional resources. Mutual aid from all over the Cape rushed down Route 6 to the scene. Task forces of additional personnel and equipment from Plymouth County moved onto the Cape in case of another major emergency. Some of those companies also responded to the Pilgrim Monument hill where embers had started a brush fire.

Incredibly there were no injuries. Whalers Wharf was destroyed along most of the Crown and Anchor. Marine Specialties was spared and no other structures were affected. The blaze prompted the largest movement of firefighters in recent memory. New buildings arose from the ashes but those that were there 20 years ago will never forget that night.

The below video was put together by Britt Crosby/capecodfd.com. It contains more photos and radio traffic archived by Harwich Fire of that fateful night: