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Three injured, dozens of boats destroyed in marina fire

Posted January 7, 2011

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— A fire at McCotter's Marina in Beaufort County injured three people and damaged at least 25 boats Friday morning, authorities said.

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office said the 911 call came in around 12:30 a.m. When crews arrived on the scene, they said the north dock was engulfed in flames.

Seven fire departments worked for more than five hours to put out the fire.

"The fire itself was very intense," said John Pack, director of emergency management for Beaufort County. "It became a matter of containing the damage and keeping it from spreading to the other boats."

Investigators determined the fire was caused by an electrical fault, Pack said, but no details were provided.

McCotter's Marina, which has 180 slips, is on Broad Creek, just off the Pamlico River east of Washington and about 35 miles inland from Pamlico Sound.

Most of the damaged boats were a total loss, and about 100 feet of the covered dock also was destroyed, authorities said.

"Trying to fight a fire out on a dock is a very hard thing," Pack said.

Three people were treated for injuries, including burns and hypothermia. At least one woman jumped into the water to escape the fire, authorities said.

"We were just blessed no one was more seriously injured," Pack said.

Mike Little said he was asleep on his boat and was awakened by the fire.

Marina fire Beaufort County marina cleans up after fire

"I looked out there, and it was already engulfed in fire. Just a couple of minutes, and it was burning like crazy," Little said.

His boat is among about seven or eight at the marina that are occupied, but authorities said everyone was accounted for after the fire.

Little said he navigated his boat past the burning dock but stopped when he heard a woman in the water screaming.

"I threw her a life ring, pulled her to my boat and got her around to my ladder. She was weak, but she had enough strength," he said.

U.S. Coast Guard crews were assessing the environmental impact of the incident on Friday and used floating booms and absorbent pads to contain debris from damaged boats and soak up spilled fuel.

Sky 5 coverage of marina fire Sky 5 coverage of marina fire

"The thickest product has been (close to the dock), so the winds have been in our favor and we've been able to contain that using the boom," Coast Guard Lt. Shannon Scaff said.

Eastern Environmental, a private hazardous materials contractor, also was called in to clear spilled fuel from the water.

Although marina users were relieved no one was seriously injured in the fire, most people who stopped by to check on their boats or watch the clean-up effort expressed sadness.

"You think about it, (and) it's sad," Little said. "You put your heart and soul into something like that, and it's gone."


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  • Made In USA Jan 7, 2011

    Gosh, so sad these people lost their boats (and some their homes). I hope the locals will pitch in and help them during this time of need. Where's the Red Cross for those that lost thier homes? I hope they come to help too.

  • vikjasmin Jan 7, 2011

    Hi all,
    I was one that lost a boat in the fire. My husband and I work in the construction industry and get up and go to work everyday working long hard hours. Both of us grew up very poor. We worked for every cent that we have and I can choose to buy anything I want! And by the way...you should not pass judgement on boat owners, all the live aboards lost there homes. It is one of the most inexpensive ways to live. Most folks that live on boats there have cancer, or medical issues and can not afford a home so slip rent and a small boat is affordable. So shame on you for judging boat owners.

  • Scubagirl Jan 7, 2011

    Wow! Glad everyone is OK. My ex used to have his boat there for a time.

  • NC Taxpayer Jan 7, 2011

    Have you been to Washington? It is a beautiful, historic, little city. I have known many people who have kept their boats at McCotter's. This area has suffered greatly due to this down economy. Don't make snide remarks! People in the Triangle drive cars that cost as much as some of these boats!

  • Mid-Rd Jan 7, 2011

    Without the rich spending their money, they rest of us may not jobs. We need to them to spend, spend, spend.

  • atozca Jan 7, 2011

    lol, godnessgracious, I haven't read the rest of the comments but I immediately thought of my friend who lives on his boat at this marina. When he and his wife divorced, the boat is all he got and it ain't much. Haven't been able to contact him, hope his home wasn't burned.

  • godnessgracious Jan 7, 2011

    Did it not occur to anybody that somebody might live in a house boat because they can't afford a land house? The rich folks can and will get new boats but lets show some respect for the folks who lost their residences or won't be able to replace their boats.

  • dogluvr26 Jan 7, 2011

    "People with too much money! I hate they lost their "sport" vessels... Wish "I" could afford a houseboat...or any OTHER kind of boat, for that matter."-finwearer

    Fact: There will always be people in this world who are better or worse off than you financially.

    Personal Opinion: Get over it. If someone is better off than you, that does not mean they are indebted to you, nor should they be made to feel bad for enjoying their wealth--at whatever level that may be. Just because someone else is struggling financially doesn’t mean a person can’t enjoy what they have worked for, whether it’s just going out for a nice meal or buying a yacht. The item’s value is irrelevant, as it’s that person’s money that purchased it.

    Let’s say a neighbor of yours owns a boat, but you yourself can’t afford a boat. How does them having a boat affect YOUR life negatively? If it does, it’s because you’ve allowed your jealousy to consume you. Who wants to live like that?!

  • NCSU_JIM Jan 7, 2011

    It is the one in front of the bathrooms I beleive mcotters owns the top 3 docks, and the other marina has the lower 3. My boat was on the dock beside the boat ramp with the cash box mounted to the tree right in front of the parking lot with the rope fence

  • Cricket at the lake Jan 7, 2011

    Boating is some of the best quality time people and families can enjoy. Most boaters are down to earth, hard working folks trying to get away from the stress of daily life. What is an acceptable way to spend time when not working or in retirement? Our heart and prayers go out to the marina owners who have spent their lives working when everyone else is out on the water having fun. Some business are such a huge liability you would have to be crazy to even think about being involved and marinas are a prime example. We also feel badly for the boat owners that have lost what was surely an investment of time and money and in many cases a true part of the family. Again, this is a sad story and our condolences to the marina owner/operators and tenants.