Boat Fire Update: Crews remain on scene as fire smolders


UPDATE: The fire that broke out aboard a 40- to 50-foot concrete boat approximately 9 miles east of Florence along Highway 126 has been contained and is being allowed to burn itself out below deck, according to Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue Interim Chief Steve Abel. Crews from SVFR along with Mapleton Fire, Western Lane Ambulance and the U.S. Coast Guard, responded to the blaze, which began shortly after 3 p.m. and quickly grew to fully engulf the catamaran-style boat, which was tied off to a dock along the Siuslaw River.

During the blaze, a man aboard the vessel who has not yet been identified reportedly leaped into the water to escape the flames. He was rescued and transported by WLAD to Peace Harbor Hospital, where he was reportedly being treated for minor injuries and medical-related issues.

Initial reports to 911 described loud explosions, which fire crews believed were probably propane tanks aboard the boat that exploded due to the high heat. Because access to the boat was limited to a long, narrow gravel road leading to the dock, crews were forced to run a main water line from the highway and down the narrow road, pumping water approximately 150 yards to the fire while replenishing the water supply via shuttling it from an alternate water source in Florence.

"We got knockdown pretty quickly but were unable to access the boat itself, or the cabin below due to it being on the water side," said Abel, who contacted the U.S. Coast Guard out of concern for debris and possible contamination should the boat collapse on itself. "The Coast Guard is aware of the situation and is ready to respond should that happen."

As of 5:30 p.m., the majority of crews were rolling hose and breaking down most of the water lines, but activity could remain in that area for the next hour or so. Drivers are urged to pass the area with extreme caution. The hull is expected to keep smoldering through the night.