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Volume XXI Editor@flsentry.com

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Marina blaze destroys local Fishing Fleet

Gun waving deputy hinders owner from saving boat

Charter Boat Captain Scott Young was alerted in the early morning hours of Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, that there was a fire at the Hillsboro Inlet Marina, home of Pompano’s Fishing Fleet. He rushed to the marina where he found the boat next to his “Reel Bandit” engulfed in flames.
He raced to untie his boat, and drive it away from the fire.
Without warning a female BSO deputy yelled to him to get off the boat.
“It’s my boat,” Young shouted back. “I need to save it.”
“Off the boat!” repeated the deputy, brandishing a .45 caliber pistol, and pointing it at Young.
He got off the boat and back onto the dock. Young said he was convinced the deputy would have shot him if he continued in his effort to save his boat.
The ‘Reel Bandit’ eventually caught fire and burned to the waterline.
“I could have saved it,” Young said. “BSO acted like they just wanted it to burn. I don’t understand it.”
The blaze appeared to have started on the Intoxication III, a boat owned by Fishbolo TM, LLC, and docked to the right side of Young’s boat. John Murray, a principal in the Fishbolo company, told reporters the fire probably started in a cabin.
With hundreds of gallons of fuel on board, the Intoxication III burned hot, and soon the fire spread to Young’s “Reel Bandit”, and the intense heat soon ignited a fire on Capt. Ed Marshburn’s “Sticks & Stones”, the pink boat on the left of the Reel Bandit.
By this time firefighters were on the scene, but when they connected a fire hose to the fire hydrant, nothing happened. When they finally got water trained on the fire, it was too late for the Sticks & Stones. Its interior burned, but fortunately for other boats downwind, the fuel did not ignite. Marshburn’s insurance adjuster “totaled” the boat.
Meanwhile, upwind, Capt. Jon White’s “Southern Girl” roasted in the intense heat from the Intoxication III inferno. The Southern Girl was still afloat, but the heat damage was so extensive that White’s insurance adjuster “totaled” the boat.
Further downwind, Capt. Brad Hunt’s “Rebound” baked in the heat from the fire, but didn’t catch fire. His new tower sustained substantial heat damage.
Only three charter boats emerged relatively unscathed, except for damage mostly from ash and smoke. Capt. Bill Gamper’s “Naughty Girl”, Capt. John Caselli’s “Ringmaster”, and Capt. Tom Oberrender’s “Texas Wireline” remain operational. Gamper said that the stench from the fire, along with portions of the parking lot being blocked off, are deterring people from chartering boats.
Two drift boats, the “Fish City Pride”, which was away from the Marina for maintenance, and the “ Helen S “ were not directly affected by the fire. An office worker said that people seem to have heard about the fire, and the drift boats are not getting many bookings.
SeaTow, a salvage company, operates a soft sided vessel on the east side of the heat-damaged Southern Girl. Capt. Tim, who works for SeaTow, said the Southern Girl and the easterly wind protected their boat, which was undamaged.
Investigators will be examining the remains of the Intoxication III to determine the cause of the fire, because Mr. Murray was claiming the fire was the result of arson, and pointed the finger at the other boat captains.
A witness, fishing on park property east of the marina, called 911 to report the fire. He said he didn’t see anyone at the marina when the fire started. One thing investigators may be looking at is the electrical work done on the Intoxication on Monday, just before the fire. Fire investigators also seized the electrical pedestal serving the Intoxication. There was some evidence of overheating, and the pedestal may have had some role in the fire.
The marina is leased from the City of Pompano Beach by Hillsboro Inlet Fishing Center, Inc., which in turn licenses slips and dock space to the occupants, except for the Intoxication, which has been in an eviction procedure since August 2014 for, among other reasons, failing to pay dockage fees.
M. Ross Shulmister, spokesman for the Fishing Center, said this is a major disaster for all involved parties. “Charter captains are out of business and can’t pay their dockage, there has to be substantial maintenance done by the City, and many customers will not patronize the Fishing Fleet until the word gets out that things are back to normal, and that is likely to be a month or so. The ‘season’ is upon us, and that is a terrible time for this to happen. Several boat captains are totally out of business. Insurance will only go so far, and it will take many months, if not years, to recover from the blaze aboard the Intoxication III.”
“At least,” he said, “no one was injured, a few of the charter boats are still taking charters, and the drift boats are still in business.”

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Bud Garner
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Copyright 2015