Wooden boat catches fire near Ridge Marina, citizens lend handPublished 11:18am Tuesday, September 10, 2013
A weekend fire scorched a wooden-hulled boat on Lake Martin.
According to the Windermere Volunteer Fire Department, the fire broke out on a Chris-Craft powerboat near Ridge Marina.
Phyllis and Reay Culp, owners of Nibbler’s Float-Thru Grill, said they caught an up-close and personal glimpse of the fire.
“We happened to be driving up toward the marina when we noticed a fire,” said Phyllis. “As we got a little closer, we noticed a beautiful wooden boat that we had seen earlier in the day (on fire).”
Reay, who is a former professional firefighter with Sylacauga Fire Department, couldn’t ignore his instincts.
“Next thing I know, we are pulling up to the boat, and I thoughT ‘ Oh my gosh, we are about to go put out a fire,” Phyllis said.
Phyllis said they tried extinguishing the blaze with several fire extinguishers, including all the ones that could be rounded up at the marina.
When the fire extinguishers were exhausted, Phylllis said the makeshift fire brigade started taking turns dumping buckets on the blaze until firefighters arrived.
Windermere VFD responded with two trucks and seven firefighters and arrived to the seen late in the afternoon Saturday.
“(When we arrived) A wooden-hull Chris-Craft powerboat was smoking heavily, and a gentleman was actually standing on it throwing water into the seating area with a bucket,” said Mike Arnold, incident commander at the scene for WVFD. “We shot water from our water cannon and doused the fire.”
Arnold said at that point, some employees from The Ridge Marina towed the boat to the bank with a personal watercraft. The charred boat was loaded onto a trailer and taken out of the water.
According to the Alexander City Fire Department, one individual was transported from the scene and taken to a helipad, where he was airlifted to a burn unit.
The incident didn’t end there, however. A few hours later, Arnold said they received another call that the boat had reignited.
“I went out and cut the battery cables and put some Type A foam (fire retardant foam) throughout the whole boat, and that took care of it.”
Arnold said he wasn’t sure whether there were any injuries resulting from the blaze. Though he admitted he was not a fire inspector, he speculated the fire was an electrical fire.
“It looked like it started in the bow of the boat, near the electrical panel,” Arnold said. “The stern of the boat was never fully involved, though the bow was completely involved.”