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July 5, 2013 at 7:36 AM

Illegal fireworks reported in area before big marina fire

Onlookers survey some of the 14 boats destroyed in a fire set off by fireworks on North Lake Union Thursday night. Damage from the fire at the Sky Launch Marina is estimated at $1.5 million. (Photo by Mike Siegel / the Seattle Times)

Onlookers survey some of the 14 boats destroyed in a fire set off by fireworks on North Lake Union Thursday night. Damage from the fire at the Sky Launch Marina is estimated at $1.5 million. (Photo by Mike Siegel / the Seattle Times)

UPDATE 12:15 p.m.|     Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore said that before last night’s marina fire, a worker at the marina told police about fireworks being illegally set off in the vicinity.

Moore said a forklift operator at Lake Union SkyLaunch Marina told a police officer in the area about illegal fireworks being shot from along the Burke-Gilman trail.

It’s not clear what action the police officer took at the time.

A fire that broke out about 10 p.m. destroyed 14 boats, doing $1.5 million in damage.

Moore said fire investigators have determined that illegal fireworks started the fire, and have turned the case over to the Seattle Polilce Arson/Bomb Squad.

UPDATE 11:30 a.m. | Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore said investigators have determined that illegal fireworks caused the marina fire. The case has been turned over to the Seattle Police Arson/Bomb Squad for investigation.

‘UPDATE 10 a.m. | The owner of a boat at Lake Union SkyLaunch Marina said “a steady barrage” of fireworks was being shot off on a hillside outside the marina before last night’s fire that destroyed 14 boats and did $1.5 million in damage.

“Some of the fireworks were pretty small, like sparklers, but some were big shells, and my wife said it looked like they were not all going out before they hit the ground … They were a little too close for comfort,” said Matt Lewis of Seattle, who has had a boat at the marina for about six years.

Lewis said his boat is in a stack adjacent to the stack where the fire occurred, and he had not had the chance to get back to the facility to see whether it sustained any damage.

Lewis was at the marina last night to watch the Lake Union fireworks display with his wife and two daughters.  About a half-hour before that show, he heard people shouting and could see bright flames.

He credited marina workers with trying to move the first burning boat away from others to keep the fire from spreading, and when that was unsuccessful, helping keep people away.

“They were calm and professional … telling us to leave and head to the parking lot, saying the fire department was on the way,” Lewis said.

He left the marina when firefighters asked those in the parking lot to leave so there would be more room for firefighting equipment..

UPDATE 8:45 a.m.  |   Alan Bohling, CEO, Seattle Boat Company, said marina staffers and Seattle firefighters helped prevent last night’s Lake Union marina fire from becoming much worse.

A staffer first tried to move the first boat that ignited, but once it was clear that the fire was spreading, workers concentrated on keeping people away from the flames, Bohling said this morning. That included about 100 people who were at the marina to watch the Gas Works Park fireworks show, which started about a half-hour after the blaze.

Fire officials say fireworks caused the blaze, which destroyed 14 boats at the Lake Union SkyLaunch Marina. Damage was estimated at $1.5 million. One firefighter was treated for a minor knee injury, but no one else was hurt.

“The damage is limited to property. We’re obviously very fortunate about that,” Bohling said.

Bohling credited the rapid response of firefighters with keeping the fire from spreading to more of the 250 boats at the facility. He said marina workers last night and today were attempting to reach as many of the boat owners as possible, to let them know if their boats were damaged.

The boatyard is a “dry stack” marina, in which boats are stacked on a metal structure.  The fire started on the canvas cover of a boat that had other boats above and below it, and was in a section of the yard closest to the street, Bohling said.

Witnesses last night said people were shooting off fireworks on a hillside just outside the marina on Northeast Northlake Way.

The fire is under investigation.

Previous post: | The owner of the boatyard where 14 boats were destroyed by a fireworks-caused blaze Thursday night said the “heroic effort” of company employees at the scene prevented the fire from spreading to more boats.

Alan Bohling, CEO, Seattle Boat Company, which operates the Lake Union Skylaunch Marina., said the first boat that burned was nearest to the street where “errant fireworks” from a nearby hillside likely ignited it.

He said the marina, which opened in 2007, serves 250 boat customers.

Seattle fire officials Thursday night determined that fireworks caused the fire, which erupted about a half-hour before the fireworks show at Gas Works Park. One firefighter battling the blaze was treated for an injury to his knee.

Witnesses said many people were shooting off fireworks in the area.

0 Comments | More in General news, The Blotter | Topics: boats, fire

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