As owners and fire investigators checked out the burned boats in Mission Bay Tuesday, Sgt. James Gartland with San Diego Association for Lifeguards told Chris Chan that conditions were just right to keep an intense fire from causing even more damage.
A fire damaged nine boats, described as 10 to 20 footers, at the Mission Bay Yacht Club Monday night.
As owners and fire investigators checked out the damaged boats Tuesday, Sgt. James Gartland with San Diego Association for Lifeguards said conditions were just right to keep an intense fire from causing even more damage.
Several people called 911 to report the fire along the slips located at 1220 El Carmel Place in Sail Bay around 9 p.m. officials said.
San Diego Fire Rescue's Copter 2 was in the area and got to the scene first and helped guide in fire engines.
Two fire/rescue boats responded. One was staffed and in the bay at the time the fire broke out. Lifeguards put out a page and two other lifeguards jumped into a second fire/rescue boat and rushed over to the yacht club to help.
One battalion chief said the fire appears to have started on one boat and quickly moved to three others.
After fighting the fire for 25 minutes, the fire/rescue boats began the process of pumping out. After about an hour on scene, on fire/rescue boat lost power and had to be towed to shore.
The aging fleet is in need of repair Gartland said adding that just last week lifeguards had requested new equipment and new tools.
The wind was down which made the fire manageable for crews that responded to the call according to the lifeguard spokesperson. Also, the marina involved is one of just a few that has a fire hydrant close by.
“When the wind is up, it jumps from boat to boat or marina to marina and can cause a lot more problems than what we had the other night,” Gartland said.
In all, nine boats were scorched in the fire. According to San Diego Fire Rescue spokesperson Maurice Luque, the damage including boats, contents and docks is approximately $1.3 million. Initial damage estimates suggested a much larger amount.
The fire produced toxic smoke coming from boats so firefighters had to be extra cautious not to breathe it in.
Nearby residents Emily Milner and Oshay Brooks said they noticed the thick black smoke immediately.
“We were inside when we heard the helicopters, and when we stepped outside, could see the billowing black smoke and helicopters, and 4 to 5 boats, easily,” said Brooks.
No injuries were reported.
The cause is still under investigation. Fire investigators said they needed to get permission from all the boat owners to gain access to each vessel so they will continue the investigation Wednesday.