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Old 07-12-2008
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Belmont Harbor, Chicago, Fire pictures

There was a fire in Belmont Harbor last night which, according to the papers destroyed two 42' powerboats and damaged a sailboat. Both the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune had brief stories and there's some footage of the fire here.

The fire was started by a citronella candle and spread by the wind to the next two boats over.

Of course, when I read that a sailboat was involved, I felt compelled to walk over to the harbor to make sure that it wasn't mine, even though logic told me I was fine since I'm on a mooring.

I overheard two of the boat owners (the one where the fire started and the damaged sailboat) providing accounts of the event on their cell phones. I also talked to a couple of guys who were on their boats on the next dock over, who recounted a very different version of events and which, quite frankly, squares more with the scenario I would have put forward as the cause.

The entire harbor is covered in diesel and reeks of fuel and smoke.

Here is my flickr set. Here are some excerpts below:

These are the boats that were destroyed. The one on which the fire started is the one that's sunk.

The second boat used to have a flying bridge.

And here's the damaged sailboat. Lot of heat damage. I would not be surprised if it doesn't have structural damage to the hull from the heat of the flames:



It was a pretty bad scene.
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Last edited by chandlerman; 07-12-2008 at 03:36 PM. Reason: fix image links to display images instead of URL's
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Old 07-12-2008
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Two ships gone, and another roasted.
I wasn't there, but it's a shame they could not have cut the lines and cast off the other two ships.
Maybe there wasn't time. It must have been horrible.
The sailboat has taken some serious radiation heat damage. I think it will sail again but things look like they may be a bit soft there and there. It looks like a good ship. That would be heart-breaking.

Last edited by Rockter; 07-12-2008 at 04:09 PM.
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Old 07-12-2008
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yeah, but if they'd cut the lines, they were 3/4 of the way down the aisle and in the middle of the docks. It probably would have made the situation even worse. Apparently, the whole thing started when the candle lit the bimini and it went up fast from there.

And, yes, that was a pretty darn nice sailboat. I'd seen it out on the water before.
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Old 07-12-2008
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Yikes!!

That fire took place on "I" dock and my Dulcinea is moored just off "J" dock. That's too close for comfort! The harbormaster said my boat's OK, but I'm going to check her out anyway

Is that Parvenu that got toasted?

Last edited by jnew; 07-12-2008 at 06:22 PM.
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"First Light" was the sailboat. "Honey Girl" was the partially burned powerboat. I don't know the name of the sunken one.

All the moored boats looked OK when I was over there again just now--good news to me since I stay on a can myself. I'm going to be on the water tomorrow morning and will be taking a look at the boats as I go by, but my instinct is that everything but the immediate vicinity is OK.

I saw a few people washing soot off their decks, but didn't see any additional damage beyond the pictures I posted.
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Old 07-13-2008
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How did a fire of this magnitude start with a citronella candle. Was it left burning unattended? Did they not have a fire extinguisher handy? You'd be surprised at how quickly a small fire can be put out by a good fire extinguisher or how quickly it can spread if left alone.
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Old 07-14-2008
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I saw an empty fire extinguisher sitting on a dock box, but my guess is that they either didn't have or didn't know how to use the extinguisher. Allegedly, the candle lit a bimini and/or cushions on the rear deck and spread rapidly from there.

Also, according to a couple of eyewitnesses on another dock, they didn't try (very hard) to fight the fire, but rather abandoned ship. Obviously, the presence of an empty extinguisher indicates that the truth lies somewhere in between.

As of yesterday morning, both of the powerboats were gone from the harbor, but the sailboat was still there along with large amounts of diesel still covering the harbor, especially on the South side of the harbor by the Chicago Yacht Club, which has been the more downwind side the past couple of days.
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