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Crosby Yacht Yard Fire
Posted 01/03/2004. Updated Dec 5, 2012
Photos by Britton Crosby
A 1989 aerial photograph of the area shows the involved sheds in the center.
Wednesday, December 10, 2003 2131 Hours
A huge part of Osterville's historic waterfront went up in flames as a spectacular
5 Alarm fire destroyed three large boat storage sheds belonging to Crosby Yacht
Yard and a fourth storage shed and boat storage racks belonging to Oyster Harbors
Marine. The fire destroyed over 40,000 square feet of buildings and possibly 100
boats in one of the largest fires to strike the Cape in many years. The loss of
some 20 wooden Wianno Senior sailboats and other wooden boats, as well as many
fiberglass vessels will run into the tens of millions of dollars. The impact to the
area is devastating in many ways, and the damage is still to be fully assessed.
was reported at approximately 2131 hours on Wednesday December 10,
2003. The night was fairly mild at 45 degrees with a light easterly breeze. A couple
inches of snow still covered the ground in a slushy mix. The first calls reported
visible fire from one of the 'sheds' which measured approximately 280' x 80'.
Multiple calls were received and it was clear early on that a serious fire was
under way. My home is within sight of the complex and as soon as I walked
outside and observed the large volume of fire that was already showing from this
well known target hazard, a call was made to transmit a 3rd alarm assignment.
This was one of the first
photographs I was able to take. It shows the volume of fire that
had already engulfed the largest of the sheds before any fire apparatus arrived. Upon
arrival at the scene, Chief John Farrington of the COMM Fire Department struck a 4th
alarm. Subsequent calls went out for additional ladder companies and other apparatus
bringing the assignment to several pieces over the 5th alarm. Approximately 14 engines,
6 ladder trucks, a heavy rescue, 5 ambulances, a fireboat, and over 7 chief officers, along
with over 110 firefighters fought the fire for several hours before bringing it under control.
Firefighters and apparatus from COMM,
Cotuit, Hyannis, Barnstable, West Barnstable,
Mashpee, Sandwich, Falmouth, Otis, and Yarmouth responded to the scene. Approximately
7000 gpm was flowing through 3 ladder pipes, several deluge guns, and numerous large
handlines. Apparatus from across the Cape provided coverage for vacant stations. In all,
19 departments were involved in the incident. The Red Cross, CIEMSS, Barnstable Police,
the Sheriff's Department, the Fire Marshall's Office, and others played a roll in this major
NOTE: Additional photos
previously not published are on Page 8 and 9 of this feature
posted December 2012.
1989 aerial view of the area. The large sheds left center are the Crosby Yacht storage
sheds that were destroyed. The main shop of Crosby Yacht is to the right of center.
The destroyed sheds included Shed 3 (280' x 80' wood with two different roof lines including
a bowed truss roof). Shed 4 is the 150' x 50' aluminum shed to the right. Shed 2 is an older
100' x 50' wooded shed on the side 3/4 corner. A shed on the left (side 2) side of shed 3
on the Oyster Harbors Marine property was also destroyed.
Side 1 of shed 3. The trailer was no longer there at the time of the fire, but several boats
were in that same location. The rack storage to the left is Oyster Harbors Marine.
The large shed 3 had two roof styles. Side 1 a conventional pitched roof, while the rear
2/3 of the building was a higher bowed roof. The aluminum shed is just feet to the right.
The aluminum shed (Shed 4) on the complex.
Shed 4 on the left and shed 3 on the right looking towards side 1. The proximity of the
buildings and the amount of fire on arrival made any defense of the exposures impossible
from this area.
The older and smallest of the sheds was Shed 2. Approximately 100' x 50' in size, it was
separated from shed 4 by the alley to the left. Shed 3 is behind shed 2 in this view.
The storage buildings on the Oyster Harbors Marine side backed up to Shed 3. Only a
few feet between the two sheds separated the two boat yards. This building was also
A close up view of the Crosby Yacht sheds and Oyster Harbors Marine shed.
The scene from the air 10 days following the fire. West Bat Road runs from right corner
straight to water at town dock. The clusters of white boats on the right are in the Crosby
Yacht parking lot on Crosby Circle. Bridge Street runs along the bottom of the photo and
to the left over the draw bridge. Cockachoiset Lane (fire address) runs from Bridge St
just right of center, to the right side of the fire. The entrance to Oyster Harbors Marine
is off Bridge Street midway up the left side of the photo to the other cluster of white boats.
The piers of the Little Island portion of Oyster Harbors Marine are visible at the top of
the photo. Shed 5 (not harmed) is visible in the middle of the photo with a green roof.
Nauticus Marine (a private marina) is located between the Crosby Yacht main shed and
the fire buildings. The white shell driveway and tall flag mast are visible to the right
of the fire. That property was not damaged.
The extent of the fire from side 3. The proximity of exposures, including dozens of boats
can be appreciated from this view.
This was one of the largest fires in the history of the COMM Fire Department and one of
the largest on the Cape in many years. Firefighters were credited with saving adjacent
properties and millions of dollars worth of boats. Favorable weather conditions, pre fire
plans, training, and a well executed mutual aid plan helped keep the fire from being
worse than it was.
Additional Photos follow....
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