Fire burns boats at Santa Cruz Harbor

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - UPDATED 1/31/17 6:30 PM: A frightening wake up call for boat owners on the Santa Cruz Harbor Tuesday morning. A fire destroyed three boats.    
The fire started at around 6 o'clock in the morning. Many people with boats on the harbor live inside of them and were asleep when it happened.
Boat owners at Santa Cruz Harbor woke up to the area in flames. The fire was at "U" dock on the north side.
"In this area, here we found 3 boats, completely engulfed in fire." said Don Kinnamon, Deputy Sr. Harbormaster.
One of those three 30 foot boats belonged to Doug Schroedel.
"I just woke up to a big loud bang, a boom and it was right next to me and I knew it was pretty serious." Schroedel said.
He says he woke up with just enough time to throw his clothes on and escape the boat before it went up in flames.
"[I] Didn't grab a thing and threw the hatch open throwing the wood slats off as fast as I could to get out and I got over the side" Schroedel said.
Though there were no injuries, Harbor Patrol says the fire was very serious. The docks are made of wood, and the boats of fiberglass, both materials that burn fast.
"[The] flames up thirty, forty feet high, you could feel the heat from 100 feet away" said Kinnamon.
They spent the afternoon working on clearing the damaged boats from the area. Schroedel's boat is one of two that made it into the nearby boatyard this afternoon, the third was still submerged in 16 feet of water as of Tuesday afternoon.
Harbor Patrol says they're working with other agencies to restore the dock and clean the water of oil and gasoline.
"Our main concern is obviously the safety of the public, the safety of the slip renters." said Kinnamon.
Santa Cruz City Fire has taken over the investigation and is still at work determining it's cause.


UPDATE 1/31/17 11:45am Santa Cruz Port Commissioner Steve Reed has confirmed that everyone has been accounted for in the fire that burned four boats at Santa Cruz Harbor earlier this morning. 

ORIGINAL STORY: Fire officials are working to account for everyone following a fire at the Santa Cruz harbor early Tuesday morning that burned four boats, according to Jason Hajduk, Division Chief of Operations with Santa Cruz City Fire Dept.

Crews responded to reports of a boat on fire in the north U-dock section of the harbor around 6am, Hajduk told KION. They found a fully engulfed boat and worked fast to limit the spread of the fire to the boats on either side. U-dock was evacuated.

Hajduk said the burned boats are in the 30-foot range and people do sleep on the boats.

“We have one boat that is sunk and we still have one boat that has some fire activity on it, but because of the integrity of the boat we’re going to remove it from the water before we fully extinguish it,” Hajduk said.

Hajduk also said there was a concern that the fire could have involved the entire dock as the docks are made of wood and the boats are made of fiberglass, which burns well. 

This is a developing story. Please check back for more information as it becomes available.


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