On the evening of March 9, 2023, a fire broke out on the fishing vessel Marlins II, docked at the Westport Marina in Westport, Wash. Despite the swift response from the South Beach Regional Fire Authority (SBRFA), the vessel sustained significant damage, estimated at $950,000. Fortunately, no casualties or environmental pollution were reported.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) identified the failure of an extension cord as the probable cause of the fire. The SBRFA, along with other agencies and residents, swiftly responded to the incident, demonstrating the community's resilience and the effectiveness of our emergency response procedures. Their collective effort prevented the 90-foot vessel from being a total loss.

"We had a report from dispatch that smoke and flames were seen before our arrival, and we thought the fire might have been in the engine room. However, it was more toward the galley."

NTSB identified the failure of an extension cord connecting the galley appliances to shore power as the probable cause of the fire. Photo courtesy of SBRFA

Because the Marlins II was a steel boat, the firefighters needed to fight the flames starting on the outside. Brown shared, "We were able to gain access and deploy a few lines to cool the fire. Gaining access was initially difficult due to the extreme heat. We deployed what we call a transitional attack."

It took about an hour and four attempts to get inside the vessel to get to the fire directly, and it was deemed out shortly after 9 p.m.

According to NTSB Safer Seas Digest, nine fires and explosions occurred in 2022 alone. NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy shared, "With every investigation, our mission is the same: to determine what happened, how it happened, and issue evidence-based recommendations to prevent similar events from occurring in the future."

Chief Dennis Benn of the SBRFA told The Daily World that firefighting at sea presents unique and significant challenges for firefighters and mariners. "Boats are difficult to navigate. Unlike a house, where you can often guess the layout, boats have very narrow corridors and potential hazards like holes in the engine room. It's a hazardous environment that requires specialized training and equipment."

Brown shared that the fire department goes down annually and does walkthroughs of larger vessels in case of future fires to combat the disorientation caused by unfamiliar areas.

"Ventilation is more difficult on boats. They can be disorienting," Brown shared.

F/V Marlins II was deemed as a total loss. Photo courtesy of SBRFA

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Carli is a Content Specialist for National Fisherman. She comes from a fourth-generation fishing family off the coast of Maine. Her background consists of growing her own business within the marine community. She resides on one of the islands off the coast of Maine while also supporting the lobster community she grew up in.

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