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Marina fire safety meeting goes up in smoke

KINGSTON — After sustaining damage to a finger slip, several boats and the complete loss of one motorboat, the Port of Kingston and North Kitsap Fire & Rescue decided a meeting to address fire safety with regard to boats and marinas was in order. Officials were ready to sail with the meeting Monday evening, but wound up sinking a tad when only four people showed up to become better educated on the issue.

Those four residents interested in gaining more information were able to observe video clips of the June 14 boat fire that sparked the need for a meeting, and discuss the potential causes and prevention tactics with NKF&R and POK officials.

“I was impressed with the response from everyone, I thought you were spot on,” said Kingston resident Bill Carter. His boat was moored next to the vessel that caught on fire in June, and one side of it suffered heavy radiation and fire damage. “The thing was, the fire burned for hours before you guys got there. Of course, you couldn’t know.”

He said the port might want to look into better ways to patrol the marina at night. If the fire had occurred in one of the covered mooring areas, it could have caused considerably more damage, spreading to other boats and weakening the structure potentially to the point of collapse. This particular blaze didn’t cause that because it was in the open air finger slip, but it did damage two other vessels as well as the port’s dock.

The four residents who attended the meeting were able to watch footage from the POK’s security cameras, which showed shadowy images of the fire as it ignited and continued to burn. NKF&R Assistant Chief Wayne Kier pointed out the fire had burned for more than an hour before it was noticed and reported. At that point, the flames were actually dying down, and another half hour or so and the boat would have sunk completely, extinguishing the blaze.

“Four minutes into the fire, the screen doesn’t do it justice,” he said. “This boat is totally involved now. In one way, the wind really helped in that it blew the fire away from the covered area.”

“It blew it into Bill’s boat,” said NKF&R public information officer Michele Laboda.

Kier said the cause of the fire was undeterminable because once the fire was put out, the scene was handled and moved enough to make it hard to make more than an estimated guess. He said there were several appliances, including a battery conditioner, a refrigerator and a bilge pump on board. Kingston resident Susan Carter said she spoke with the owner of the boat before the blaze, and they had said they hadn’t checked the battery conditioner for several weeks.

“The boat owner himself told us he had left his battery charger for about three weeks unattended,” she said.

Kier, Laboda and NKF&R Assistant Chief Dan Smith all said electrical appliances on boats and yachts should be checked regularly, all normal fire precautions should also be taken on vessels and boat owners and families should be sure to have an escape plan especially because there are limited ways off a boat.

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