Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fire on British Cemetery Road

Last night at around midnight the fire sirens went off and had the island wondering and worrying about what the outcome was going to be. From Howard Street we could hear the shouts of the firefighters and see the glow of the blaze. We couldn't smell the fire from Howard Street, because the wind was blowing towards Oyster Creek. Our condolences go out to the owners of the house on British Cemetery Road that burned. It's still standing (as you can tell from the photos), but the inside is completely gutted from the fire. There were also no reported injuries related to the event. We are exceptionally grateful to our all volunteer firefighters and staff for quickly and effectively extinguishing the fire. It was surrounded by trees and there were many houses in close proximity. My understanding is that no other buildings were damaged in the blaze, although neighbors were out in their yards dousing burning embers as they landed.

As of yet, I have no information about the cause of the fire. I'm sure there will be an investigation into that. And, as always, an event like this reminds us how lucky we are to have such a capable fire department. If anyone would like to show their appreciation financially, you can do so either on their website,, or by mailing a check (made out to OFPA -- Ocracoke Fire Protection Agency) to OVFD, PO Box 332, Ocracoke, NC 27960. It is a non-profit organization.

Click on any photo below to view a larger image.


  1. Anonymous1:49 AM

    Philip, I just read your blog and saw the photos of the terribly damaged house. This past October when I took my Mom to Ocracoke, I am positive we noticed this house during our many strolls on British Cem. road. It was a lovely place.

    I'm very thankful no one was hurt and the fire didn't spread. It had to be a most frightening time for all the residents in that area.

    Yes, the Ocracoke VFD is to be praised for their efforts. I thank God that no one, inside the house or any of the volunteers and neighbors, were injured. It had to be a very hot and aggressive fire to have done this type of damage.

    Again, many thanks for posting this news. I'm truly sorry for the owners.

  2. Anonymous1:59 AM

    Another point....I just study the photos again....noticing the sturdy wooden fence, wall or arbor-type structure on the left side of the bottom photo. At the Ocracoke Harbor Inn, there is a similiar "wall", if you will, in the breezeway and thick, lovely ivy climbs it from the first to the second floor. It's built very similiar to this "fence" in the photo. I've always admired it because it is so sturdy. May be only a coincidence, but I'm wondering now if the owners of this home have anything to do w/ The Ocracoke Harbor Inn..... (Megan, Brenda, Sharon, Linda?) Please let me know. Thank you ever so much!

  3. Anonymous5:33 AM

    Had not this house changed owners and was being remodeled? And was this not the house that had the strange board sign in the yard? Something about "fence cutters beware?"

  4. Anonymous9:08 AM

    Did a local family live there or was it a rental? It's a tragedy anytime, but this close to Christmas makes it even more so.

  5. The owners of this house do not live on the island, but I don't know if they rent it or not. I met the new owners several years ago, but it may have been sold again, more recently. I just do not know. Islanders refer to the house as "John O'Neal's." John and his wife Mary owned it. When John died his son Johnny inherited the house. At one time it was the parsonage for the "Northern" Methodist Church which was located where Zillie's is today.

  6. Anonymous1:20 PM

    We do know the owners and this is such a tradegy for this family. They are wonderful, good hearted caring people and have spend much time and love to restore this house. We are sadden by this and hope that an investigation is persued.

  7. Anonymous12:16 PM

    sounds suspicious to me an empty house catches on fire...

  8. Anonymous2:34 PM

    I think the fence cutter sign guy had something to do with it.... Long standing greevence with the current owner..

    I hope there will be an investigation!

  9. Anonymous6:49 AM

    I agree with above comment!

  10. Anonymous7:24 PM

    hoping this isn't another case that gets swept under the rug...the law needs to do their job