Eight boats sank and at least one other was severely damaged in a smoky blaze under the West Seattle Bridge, the Seattle Fire Department said Saturday.
No one was reported injured. But the Friday night fire at a marina on Southwest Spokane Street “was quite a chaotic scene,” said fire department spokesman David Cuerpo.
Cuerpo said they have not yet determined the cause of fire. However it started, it quickly spread because the boats sit side-by-side and their hulls are made of highly flammable fiberglass.
Firefighters faced a number of challenges when they arrived about 9:30 p.m. The one floating deck allowing access to the boats couldn’t support many people on it. So a fire boat stationed near the ferry terminal on Alaskan Way was called into service. The fire boat — pumping 20,000 gallons of water a minute, vastly more than a fire engine can — pushed into the Duwamish River to get close to the boats.
Crews also worked the fire from land but had to contend with other hazards. Their hoses had to cross railway lines to reach hydrants and their ladders risked running into utility poles. Fire officials called BNSF Railway and Seattle City Light to stop trains from running and to deactivate electrical lines.
About 75 firefighters and support staff worked for two hours to contain the blaze and make sure nobody was trapped inside the mostly small, recreational boats. There were no people inside, Cuerpo said. A floating administrative building also caught fire.
A few crews stayed overnight to make sure the fire was completely out. Fire investigators returned in the morning.