The building, which housed the Side Street Galleries and art and jewelry studio, is located just beyond the causeway.
The property is owned by the Sibley family, and George Sibley told firefighters that he was on the second floor in the workshop when he noticed it filling with smoke.
Sibley then found smoke and fire coming from the first-floor wall in the area of an operating wood stove, according to the report. He said he attempted to extinguish the fire himself before calling the Fire Department, but he was unsuccessful.
Upon arriving at the scene, crews vented the second floor of heat and smoke by breaking out windows and found a "fully involved" fire, according to Aiello's report, which indicated that the fire's cause was clearly "unintentional."
Firefighters stretched a hose line up the ladder well to the second floor and quickly knocked down the main body of fire. But due to a "significant amount of contents," Aiello said, firefighting personnel remained on scene sifting through the workshop for hot spots to prevent against a rekindle.
While crews from Central Station and West Gloucester battled the fire, the crew from Bay View Station moved in to cover the city, Aiello said.
Aiello said the workshop and its contents were destroyed by the fire, while a firefighter reported neck and shoulder soreness after slipping and falling.
"The frigid conditions turned the water from the firefighters' hose lines almost immediately into ice and created very slippery conditions," Aiello said.
According to the report, an investigation determined the fire was unintentional and originated on the first floor in the interior wall around the area where the wood stove vents to the exterior. The blaze, Aiello's report indicates, was most likely caused by years of "pyrolysis" -- defined as "the decomposition or transformation of a compound caused by heat."
Fire Chief Eric Smith said over the weekend that the blaze, which essentially destroyed the workshop and its contents, should serve as a reminder of the need to check and monitor the safety of all home heating and cooking equipment.
"Annual inspections and cleaning of heating equipment is extremely important," Smith said, while "proper use and clear open space around heating and cooking equipment is a must."
"Good housekeeping, working smoke and CO2 detectors are critical to early warning and the ability to escape the home or structure," he added. "Escape and evacuation plans that include a family/staff meeting spot outside, then calling 911 once safely outside."
Written by Gloucester Daily Times