Two boats sink, two swamped, but no one injured in late-Monday blaze at marina

MARBLEHEAD Investigators are searching for the cause of a fire that destroyed four boats and damaged
Sarah Weber
May 24, 2010

MARBLEHEAD

Investigators are searching for the cause of a fire that destroyed four boats and damaged another at Bay Point Marina in Marblehead late Monday night.

Jeff Nehls, supervisor of the local Division of Watercraft, said the state agency was working with Marblehead fire officials to determine the source of the blaze.

Fire departments, including Marblehead, Port Clinton, Lakeside, Catawba Island and Bay Township, were called to the scene at about 11:13 p.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard was also dispatched to secure a perimeter around the marina to make sure other boats did not enter the area.

"We feel very fortunate that no one was injured, and we feel very grateful for the quick response by our fire departments," said Point Park manager Brooke Brown. "Everyone worked tirelessly in their efforts to extinguish the fire."

Brown said the floating docks at the marina were not damaged by the flames.

Jim Kennedy, fleet manager at Lake Erie Towing, said he was called about the fire at about the same time as the fire departments. He said he was one of the first people on the scene, and dispatched his company's fire boat to help firefighters battle the blaze.

Kennedy said several firefighters boarded the fire boat and pulled one smoldering boat away from the inferno.

"All I saw was a wall of smoke, and then suddenly there was a boat coming out of it," Kennedy said.

He said about 20 of his crew assisted firefighters. Lake Erie Towing crews also worked throughout the day with environmental personnel to clean up the mess.

"Between all of the foam and the debris, it wasn't a clean marina," Kennedy said. "But it is now."

Two of the destroyed vessels sank, and two took on a substantial amount of water, Kennedy said.

Neighbors were also alarmed by the fire Monday night.

Lynn Majce, who lives about half a mile away from the marina, said she saw a smoky haze in the air at about 11:30 p.m. She said she and her husband, Joe, decided to take a drive down Bayshore Road to find the source of the smoke around 12:30 a.m. and saw fire engines at the marina where the couple stores their boat.

"It's pretty unbelievable," Majce said.

Majce said her boat was not destroyed. She applauded the fire departments for containing the blaze before it spread.

"It's a sad day for boaters," she said.

Nehls said the destroyed boats were large, in the 35-40 foot range. He said his department is working to determine a cost estimate for the fire damage. He said the blaze started on one boat and spread to boats docked nearby.