On Sunday afternoon the Ocracoke Preservation Society executive committee members met on the front porch to hear an assessment of the damages from last Tuesday's fire. I'll give a brief overview.
Almost certainly the fire was caused by a lightning strike to the flashing around one of the chimneys. Apparently it smoldered for several hours before breaking out through the roof. Luckily the wooden roof was thoroughly saturated by rain water and the fire spread slowly.
The fire department responded immediately after the flames were sighted and 911 was called. Deeana, who was in the building unaware of the situation, was alerted of the danger and fled the building.
Ocracoke's firefighters quickly contained the fire in spite of a steady wind, but the museum sustained some water damage. Although the damage was far less than it could have been, it was not negligible.
Deeana has nothing but praise for the volunteer firemen. For every firefighter working to extinguish the blaze, she says, there were two helping to move the historic artifacts so they wouldn't be damaged by the water. As a result, virtually all of the photographs, documents, papers, quilts, etc. were saved. However there is significant damage.
There is, of course, a hole in the roof that must be repaired, including roof rafters that are charred and even burned all the way through. Wet insulation must be removed from the ceiling, and walls and floors need to be dried out. Some of the telephones and computers are not working, and may be damaged beyond repair. A significant portion of the gift shop merchandise, especially books, was damaged, and paint has begun to peel from walls and ceilings. Preservationists have been contacted for advice about minimizing future damage from mold and mildew.
In addition, virtually every room is in disarray, with books, papers, photographs, and furniture pulled away from walls and piled wherever it was driest.
In spite of all this, officers, volunteers, and employees have been working tirelessly to restore the museum, and reopen the doors. A display honoring Muzel Bryant is even planned for this Saturday, although some of the rooms may be roped off.
OPS has fire insurance, but there is, of course, a sizable deductible. If you would like to contribute to the repair and restoration of the museum you may send checks to:
Ocracoke Preservation Society, P.O. Box 1240, Ocracoke, NC 27960.
Other ways of contacting OPS can be viewed here: http://www.ocracokepreservation.org/id3.html
To become a member click here: http://www.ocracokepreservation.org/id2.html
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a fun island crossword puzzle. You can view it here.