Three boats, three boat houses burn at Seattle marina


by KYLE MOORE / KING5 News and Associated Press

Posted on August 24, 2010 at 12:10 PM

SEATTLE - "A huge explosion and then flames," is how a railroad worker described the first moments of a fire that started on a boat and spread to neighboring boats and housings.

Randy Chase was living on his boat when he heard a loud boom and went to investigate.

"It was a huge explosion, huge. I'd say two propane bottles went off at the same time," he said. "I came out and looked and there were about 15 to 20 foot flames coming out of the boat shed."

He saw the flames jump from the boat to neighboring boat houses at the Jim Clark Marina located along the Duwamish River.

According to fire investigators, the flames began around 4m on one boat then spread to several boat houses. Firefighters had to pull the burning boat out of the marina to try and prevent the flames from spreading. Crews on the dock cut through a neighboring boat house to reach the flames. Firefighters had to string 510 feet of hose in order to reach the fire.

Investigators say three boats were heavily damaged if not destroyed. One boat sank, another was burned to the waterline and a third suffered heavy damage.

Julie Estes woke up to the sound of the explosion and smelled the smoke.

"You know early morning phone calls are never fun, but a boom. My husband heard it and he's like 'God, that just does not sound right,'" said Estes, who owns a boat at the marina. "We get out of our house, we live over on Fauntlee Hills above the Fauntleroy Ferry dock, we smelled the fire. So it was kinda like you knew what was coming down the pike."

She drove from her West Seattle home to find her 32-foot boat destroyed. Estes says she just returned from a boat trip with her husband. They had filled the fuel tanks in anticipation of a boat outing this weekend.

Estes says the boat next to her boat house caught fire and spread to neighboring boat houses and boats.

Firefighters fought the flames from the pier and from the fireboat Leschi.

In the morning light, firefighters said there were actually three boats that were heavily damaged. One boat had burned down to its waterline, a second sank in 20 feet of water and another boat had heavy damage.

Estes said several boats were full of fuel. There is a West Seattle Yacht Club gathering planned for this weekend. She said many people had prepped their boats in advance, filling them with fuel.

There were no injuries.

Fire investigators are waiting for divers to arrive to search the sunken vessel for a cause.