An accidental fire that broke out on a boat docked at the Del Rey Yacht Club in Marina del Rey early Thursday morning, April 6th, caused more than $1 million in damage to two large yachts, including a boat belonging to the yacht club commodore, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials said.
Two other boats also suffered approximately $30,000 in exterior damage in the blaze, which started at about 1:50 a.m. at the 100 dock of E basin in the Marina, Sheriff’s Department Marina del Rey Station officials said. Del Rey Yacht Club is at 13900 Palawan Way.
No one was injured in the fire.
The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation, but investigators believe that the accidental fire originated below deck in the bilge area of The Great Escape, and spread to adjacent boats, including Eyes of Love, Marina Sheriff’s Lt. Greg Nelson said.
Engineers will investigate whether electrical components below deck may have ignited the fire, Nelson said.
Bob Dworman, Del Rey Yacht Club assistant port captain, said The Great Escape, a 46-foot Carver Aft Cabin yacht, is owned by yacht club member George Wallace and his wife.
Eyes of Love, a 49-foot Meridian yacht, is owned by Del Rey Yacht Club commodore Irving Bied and his wife, Judy. Bied has served as commodore since November.
While the two boats reportedly suffered total damage in the fire, Dworman said yacht club members are thankful that “no one was injured.” The Wallaces had reportedly planned on sleeping on their boat the night of the fire.
Marina Sheriff’s Sgt. George Ducoulombier said the fire was first reported by a sheriff’s deputy on patrol, who smelled the fire and went to the scene.
The deputy alerted sheriff’s department units, which responded within two minutes with a patrol boat and two waterside cars.
When deputies arrived they saw “two boats fully engulfed” and began using fire hoses from the patrol boat, Ducoulombier said.
Thirty-nine Los Angeles County firefighters were also called to the scene and responded with one fire boat and three fire engines.
“There was a large amount of fire,” county fire inspector Sam Padilla said. “It was ripping.”
Delia Ross, who lives with her husband aboard their 48-foot powerboat, said they woke up to the sound of the harbor patrol and then saw the fire coming from the boats located five slips down on the dock.
“The flames were shooting up to 30 feet,” Ross said. “It was very intense.
“By the time we went out and took pictures it was pretty strong and not much could’ve been done by then.”
Ross said she knew the owners of the boats on fire and immediately called Wallace and Bied, who arrived later.
Firefighters at the scene battled the blaze with a “combined effort” from the water on the fire boat and from land with the use of hand lines, Padilla said.
The firefighters fully extinguished the fire in about 40 minutes.
The total damage estimate to The Great Escape is about $500,000, and the damage to Eyes of Love is estimated at more than $500,000, sheriff’s officials said.
According to www.yacht world.com, an online source for yacht sales, a newer model of a 49-foot Meridian yacht costs $450,000 to $500,000.
Newer models of a 46-foot Carver Aft Cabin yacht cost about $525,000.
Two other boats were also damaged, one 48 feet and the other 47 feet in length, with damage estimates at $25,000 to one and $5,000 to the other, Ducoulombier said.
The incident Thursday, April 6th, was the first fire in the 54-year history of Del Rey Yacht Club, Dworman said.
The fire had no effect on operations at the yacht club, which remained open last Thursday, he said.