A bottle of Dermott Bottoms’ highly-distilled coconut liquor is suspected of starting the catastrophic fire that destroyed Blacktip Island’s fire station and pickup truck.
The Blacktip Island fire station burned to the ground early Thursday morning in circumstances authorities have described as suspicious.
“There was nothing in that pole barn that would’ve caught fire on its own,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Not even the fire truck. The question’s whether someone started the fire on purpose or by accident.
“All we know for certain is the fire department was alerted at 2:15 A.M., and he responded within minutes,” Marquette said. “Smokey gave it all he had with a garden hose, but that wood siding burned fast. It’s been so dry lately.”
A fire department spokesperson denied rumors the fire was the fault of a disgruntled firefighter.
“I was down at the Last Ballyhoo when the call came in,” Fire Chief Smokey Blaise said. “And I was there all evening. I got the blood test to prove that.”
Blaise’s story was corroborated by many locals, who believe the fire was started inadvertently.
“Dermott Bottoms just did cook up a batch of his coconut hootch,” Blacktip resident Rocky Shore said. “That stuff’s closer to jet fuel than it is to liquor, and the usual crew was pounding it down and smoking and playing dominoes on the picnic table out back of the fire station all night.
“Ol’ Dermott’s been threatening to light his hootch-fueled intestinal gas for years,” Shore said. “You think it’s coincidence he’s been on his stomach in the clinic ever since? And that Rafe can’t question him because every time he tries, Rafe busts out laughing so hard he can’t talk?”
Island property owners, however, are more concerned about the safety of the island’s other structures.
“With the fire truck burned up, what happens if one of our homes catches fire?” local businessman Ham Pilchard said. “This is a serious failure that puts us all in jeopardy. Smokey riding around on his bike with buckets of water hanging from the handlebars just doesn’t cut it.”
Island mayor Jack Cobia was quick to reassure residents.
“Our public services are more than adequate to protect the community,” Cobia said. “And end of the day, Blacktip’s a small island, surrounded by water. There’s only so much that can burn, and so far it can burn.
“This fire was on the west coast, by Diddley’s Landing cement pier, with a strong east wind,” Cobia said. “It burned itself out pretty quick. Yeah, the concrete got a little scorched, but nothing that’ll stop supplies form coming in.”