Nanoose Bay boat fire narrowly misses spreading to marina fuel dock, no injuries reported

Nanoose Bay boat fire narrowly misses spreading to marina fuel dock, no injuries reported
(Courtesy Mike Lynch)
Massive flames and a thick plume of black smoke erupt from a 24 foot boat in Nanoose Bay's Schooner Cove Marina, March 20, 2023.

A boat fire at a Nanoose Bay marina sent black smoke billowing into the sky and drew a response from both volunteer firefighters and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Witnesses who live on a hill overlooking Schooner Cove Marina at Fairwinds Golf Club reported seeing the tower of smoke at around 10:15 a.m. Monday and looked down to see the docked boat, a 24-footer with a fibreglass hull, engulfed in flame.

“I heard my wife go ‘Oh my god. There’s a fire at the marina,'” said witness Robert Wigmore. “I don’t know if it had just finished fueling up.”

Most concerning to onlookers was the boat’s proximity to a fuel dock and fuel lines.

“[The boat] started to drift a bit because the mid-ship dock line probably was melted off, it was still attached at the stern. It was sort of staying, drifting in and out,” recalled Wigmore.

“I was concerned about the fuel dock catching fire, and their fuel lines all run on top of the dockways. They’re not metal pipes, they’re like a heavy Teflon hose…if those burned through then that liquid gasoline is gonna drain out in the water and then be just a huge water fire.”

Fortunately, Nanoose Bay Volunteer Fire Department was on the scene before things got out of control and credited a young marina worker for doing everything right before crews arrived, adding no one was injured in the incident.

“The staff down there did a great job, he did everything right,” said Capt. John Newall. “He dumped two extinguishers on it, tried to control it, and when he realized it had gotten out of control he hit all the gas and electrical shutoffs.”

Nanoose Bay firefighters as well as members of the Canadian Armed Forces from the nearby Nanoose range worked together to hose the boat over to an entry ramp, where crews then doused the boat, which was destroyed.

Witness Mike Lynch drove to the scene and saw that the fuel dock structure was burned, but said he was glad to hear from others that there were no injuries.

“It’s just a boat. It can be replaced,” Lynch said.

Newall said he suspects that the fire may have been caused by vapour ignition after seeing surveillance video at the marina. The video reportedly shows the boat’s owner fueling up when something ignites, blowing open a hatch and igniting liquid fuel under the deck.

The fire caused some superficial damage to the fuel dock’s siding and soffits but Newall said the situation could have been much worse.

He said the owner seemed quite experienced, as it was not their first time out on the water, and added RCMP did not indicate there was any criminality involved in the blaze.

CHEK News has reached out to the Canadian Coast Guard for more information.

READ MORE: One boat sunk, another damaged from boat fire in Cadboro Bay

Jeff LawrenceJeff Lawrence

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