MATTAPOISETT – When your 60-plus-year-old family business, comprising six buildings, 20 boats, some 40 cars and all the tools of the property, is destroyed in perhaps the biggest fire in the city’s history, you think it’s going to take a lot of planning to rebuild.
But said Mattapoisett Shipyard owner David Kaiser, the close-knit brotherhood of MBY staffers is grateful there’s one thing they don’t have to plan: a funeral.
“The fact that we’re not planning a funeral, the fact that nobody died – and we could be talking about multiple lives here – I can’t underestimate how that keeps us going.”
Phil Macomber, 50, an employee for 20 years, was seriously injured in the August 19 six-alarm fire at 32 Ned’s Point Road. He suffered burns and a broken femur.
But, Kaiser said, Macomber is recovering, out of intensive care and now in an acute burns unit, which is positive progress.
“He’ll be fine. So we can have a positive view of the rebuilding and how we’re going to get through it,” he said.
A GoFundMe Macomber’s page raised over $150,000 before Macomber himself said it was enough.
“Phil is much better. He’s healing,” Kaiser said Wednesday.
Four MYB employees carried out the rescue of Macomber after an explosion started the fire. The cause of the fire was determined to be a spark igniting gasoline fumes during the replacement of a boat’s gas tank.
Kaiser said two of the employees were on site and two others “rushed” to the scene of the explosion to help.
“Our staff is very close. We have 20 full-time employees and another 12 or 14 part-timers,” he said.
All four declined to come forward to describe their actions that day.
“They’re really modest about it,” Kaiser said.
The shipyard is also on the mend.
The rubble has been cleared and the land is once again ready to accommodate the company.
Obviously, however, there is a lot to do.
“Every day the scope of what lies ahead becomes greater and greater. I keep forgetting that I should keep a notepad by the bed at night to write down all the things that are lost. In the end, we we lost everything.”
He said a customer whose boat was destroyed and trailer mangled in the fire was hoping the trailer’s license plate was salvageable. Surprisingly, it was.
But Kaiser told him he should come and take it out himself. Not even a screwdriver had survived the fire. “My truck was also involved in the fire, and of the 20 boats that were there, two were our family boats.”
Kaiser said their five full-time mechanics lost all their tools due to fire damage. “We have to replace everything.
He becomes “very knowledgeable about insurance claims,” he said. However, he noted, their insurance agent was extremely helpful. “He keeps exceeding our expectations, and then the field investigators who are here for our insurance companies are just maestros, doing it all.”
Kaiser said someone compared their current situation to a “start-up.”
But that’s actually not accurate, he said.
“With a start-up, you start from scratch. We are more than 75% there because we have our people and we have the land.”
It remains to rebuild, and Kaiser, although aware of the enormity of the task, is optimistic.
“We’re going to rebuild a better building than what we had, no doubt. We’ve already had a meeting with the construction company, so we’re designing right now,” he said.
Community support has been “incredible,” he said, and he thanked people for helping with updates on MBY’s Facebook page. Kaiser owns MBY with his son, Ned.
A gofundme A page was also set up for Mattapoisett Boatyard by David Horne, which had raised over $78,000 on Thursday.
Horne, who describes himself as “a longtime friend” of MBY, said the gofundme will continue until October 20, which is also the date of an auction for the shipyard he is hosting from 5 p.m. at 8 p.m. at the bay. Club. It will include hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. Tickets are $150 per person. Those wishing to attend can email Susan Horne at [email protected] Those wishing to donate to the silent auction can email David at [email protected] All donors and donations will be listed on the Horne website, mybuzzardsbay.comwhich includes a video Horne caught fire.
“So now we all need to rebuild,” Kaiser said this week as work on the site progressed.