A fire that swept through a dock at Shelter Bay Marina late Friday afternoon sank six boats and burned others to the waterline.
Firemen and Oil Spill Response teams worked through the night to contain oil and gas spills. Authorities said that each boat had the capacity to carry well over 300 gallons of gasoline or diesel some as much as 600 gallons. Some boaters fill their boats with fuel during the winter so there is no air gap in the fuel tank.
Fire officials said there were no fire hydrants close to the dock, so the tankers had to drive several blocks to refill with water.
By midnight booms had been spread to contain the oil and gas released from the vessels and cleanup crews were mopping up black gunk with absorbent towels called “diapers,” according to Fire District 13 Chief Roy Horn.
Residents whose homes overlook the marina have said that a boat exploded into flame and then the fire quickly spread from boat to boat along the dock. Investigators were still working to determine the exact cause of the fire.
Early Saturday a light snowfall hid some of the hideous destruction that occurred Friday night. A light sheen from fuel and floating debris from the tragedy appeared to be confined to the immediate area where the boats sunk.
U.S. Coast Guard and State Department of Ecology personnel were expected to be at the scene most of the day, along with fire and Swinomish tribal officials.