NKY boat fire turns deadly, entire harbor shut down: ‘A nightmare scenario’

Six hundred gallons of gas were burned and released into the water.
Published: Dec. 30, 2022 at 1:31 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 31, 2022 at 8:27 AM EST
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DAYTON, Ky. (WXIX) - More than a dozen first responders were called to a boat fire Friday at the Manhattan Harbour Marina.

One person is dead and one person is hospitalized with critical burns.

Story continues below.

A house boat caught fire shortly before 11:18 a.m. and then spread to a cabin cruiser.

The first responding agencies were Bellevue-Dayton FD. Newport FD, Fort Thomas FD and Campbell County Fire Investigations. The Cincinnati Fire Department also responded.

Two boats were completely destroyed and two other boats were damaged.

Several Good Samaritans helped crews pull the man out of the water who was later hospitalized with the burn wounds.

EMS transported him to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

Bellevue-Dayton Fire Chief Chris Adkins says this fire is a nightmare scenario.

“It was kind of a difficult fire for us to fight because we had a long reach for firefighting equipment and we were fighting with fuel,” he said.

One witness described the thick cloud of smoke that rose from the boats.

“I’ve never seen a cloud of smoke like that ever, and especially how dark the cloud of smoke was, it was scary,” she said.

The harbor is shut down because of the amount of fuel in the water and the current inability of firefighters to control its spread. Power to the marina has been shut off as a precautionary measure.

“We’ll have booms, absorbent booms down there, just to soak up the water,” Adkins said. “We’ve got to be able to get to the boats to shutoff the fuel supply and we can’t do that until we get the boats out of the water and we have to make the situation safe before EPA can actually do that and mitigation companies can actually do that.”

Six hundred gallons of gas were burned and released into the water.

Some people will be displaced.

“They’re gas fumes,” Adkins said, “and those fumes will just travel. So let’s say we have fumes that travel to a boat on a dock, and they go to light a stove, turn their furnace on, and it could ignite those fumes.”

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, Kentucky EPA, NKY Hazmat, the Coast Guard and the Red Cross are among the agencies that responded.

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