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Boat fire extinguished near Peninsula Point

Daily News Staff Writer

Late Friday afternoon, the Ketchikan Fire Department responded to a fire aboard a 45-foot diesel boat in the Tongass Narrows near Peninsula Point.

A person on shore reported the recreational boat fire, estimated to be about two miles north of the airport, at 4:40 p.m. Friday.

Crew on the Harry Newell, KFD's fire boat, rescued three occupants and a dog from the smoking boat. The occupants, a male and a female in their mid 50's and a male who was 24, appeared to live aboard, according to KFD Assistant Chief Scott Brainard. No injuries occurred, according to the KFD.

The U.S. Coast Guard is still investigating the cause of the fire.

"This one was a smoldering fire in the hull, so it took (firefighters) time to get down in the hull and suppress the fire because of the confined space," said Brainard.

When units arrived at the boat in distress, they found significant smoke coming from the vessel. However, respondents found that the three occupants and a member of the Ketchikan Harbormaster Office had successfully extinguished the flames, according to a USCG press release.

After KFD removed the occupants, a coast guard rescue boat crew towed the smoking boat to a dock near the Temsco Helicopter building. This made it easier for KFD reach the boat with water and foam.

Brainard said the first priority is "taking care of the people, and make sure the people are safe."

The next step is to assess the construction and age of the boat, and how to safely get personnel fighting the fire in and out of the boat, according to Brainard.

The fire was "extremely stubborn" and concentrated between the wooden hull and the superstructure of the vessel, with fire involvement on the port side between the bow and stern, according to a social media post from KFD.

"It had embers from the front of the boat to the back of the boat," said Brainard.

Due to extensive fire, smoke and water damage, the vessel was deemed uninhabitable, according to KFD. The occupants were assisted by the American Red Cross for temporary housing.

By 8:44 p.m. all fired departments and personnel cleared the scene.

"This was a best-case scenario. Three people are safe tonight because of the quick action of the Ketchikan Harbormaster's Office," said Scott Cichoracki, Coast Guard Sector Juneau Command Center watch stander. "They recognized the fire and took quick action to get on scene and help out. We are grateful to them and the Ketchikan Fire Department for their coordinated efforts to help these mariners during their time of distress."

Other responders included the U.S. Forest Service and good Samaritans.