‘Unsung heroes’ honored for saving a life at boatyard fire

Sep 30, 2022

MATTAPOISETT – Residents of Mattapoisett will never forget Friday, Aug. 19, said Town Administrator Mike Lorenco.

Lorenco spoke at a ceremony at the Mattapoisett Boatyard on Thursday, Sept. 29, honoring the first responders who helped extinguish the devastating fire at the boatyard in August.

Present along with Lorenco to give awards were Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and State Rep. Bill Straus (D-Mattapoisett).

Present at the ceremony that day was Phil Macomber, an employee of the boatyard for nearly 20 years, who was injured during the fire. He is expected to recover and be able to return to work because of the bravery of four boatyard employees, said Mattapoisett Boat Yard co-owner David Kaiser.

Those employees, Jacey Yancey, Roger Reed, Jake Clarke, and Trevellis Oliver, rushed into the blaze, which they refer to now as “The Monster,” to pull Macomber out and get him to safety.

“If it wasn't for Jake, Roger, Jacey, and Trevellis, we might be talking differently today. But they are true heroes for getting the injured party to the door so EMS could retrieve him,” said Mattapoisett Police Chief Jason King.

To have a fire of this magnitude and not have one fatality is absolutely incredible,” said Mattapoisett Fire Chief Andrew Murray. “And that is owed to the four unsung heroes that are up here today.”

Art McLean, who founded the Mattapoisett Boatyard in 1962, stood at the podium to thank the community for their support.

“I personally built a couple of those buildings all by myself,” he said. “My wife and I stood down at the beach that day, and watched the place burn down. All I could do was hope that nobody was in that building.”

He has since passed the family business down to his son-in-law, Kaiser.

Kaiser said that he is still processing the “gravity” of the situation. “The way the community has rallied around us and the outpouring of support and love has been nothing short of amazing. But to say it's all a wonderful thing, I’d be lying. It’s a tragedy.”

The Boatyard employees returned to work just two weeks after that tragedy, but the reality of it is still sinking in, Kaiser said.

He described a day where he was working out on the dock and needed “just two little screws.” On autopilot, he started heading toward the boatyard before realizing it wasn’t there any more.

“The reality that we lost everything just hadn’t set in yet,” Kaiser said.

There were 37 agencies that came to Mattapoisett’s aid that day, including 23 fire engines, 2 ladders, 13 ambulances, 13 tank trucks, 18 fire chiefs, and 8 specialty vehicles. Murray said over 100 firefighters were on the scene to help contain the blazes.

“Although it was a challenging day for the town, it is a day the community can be proud of because of the acts of heroism displayed by so many,” said Lorenco.

Polito called up Murray and King to give them citations from Gov. Charlie Baker for the work of the fire department and emergency medical services in containing and extinguishing the fire.

“I can't help but think the quick, ready and able response helped to not only contain the fire here, but also protect and prevent the spread that could have been devastating to the health, well-being and property of this neighborhood,” Polito said, adding that the response from Mattapoisett’s first responders was “extraordinary.”