Property owners granted access to site of Richmond Yacht Basin fire

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Around 7 a.m. Friday morning, Henrico County firefighters got the call that there was a fire at the Richmond Yacht Basin.

“The original call came in from somebody who was on one of the boats this morning. He got in contact with somebody else he knew in another boat and they were able to escape safely,” Capt. Taylor Goodman of the Henrico County Fire Department said.

The plumes of smoke could be seen for miles as 12 to 15 boats went up in flames. Some of the boats sank to the bottom of the creek while others drifted away. Crews had to determine which boats to extinguish.

“It’s one of those choices where you have to put out the most fire and be most effective, and those clearly weren’t going to spread to anything else so those were allowed to burn for a while,” Goodman said. “Those made of heavy timber, and the fire just got inside those, and it burns very hot, very deep inside there, so getting inside of those to put them out becomes a challenge.”

Ron Blaha had a couple from Pennsylvania staying on his boat.

“It was pretty nasty for a little while. I’m grateful everybody got out,” Blaha said.

Blaha’s boat was unscathed.

Crews from Henrico County, Chesterfield County, RIC Airport, James City, Virginia Beach, Newport News, the USCG, the EPA and the Virginia Port Authority all responded to the fire.

“It was a pretty remote area, no fire hydrants, so we had to bring water on engines and tanker trucks, so there were very long hose lays to bring water in,” Goodman explained.

Goodman added that eventually, units were brought in to draw water from the river.

Henrico Fire said that the owners of property located at the marina will not be allowed on the property until Saturday at noon. In the meantime, HAZMAT crews are monitoring the James River to ensure that there isn’t any spilled fuel following the fires.

The investigation continues as officials try to figure out what caused all of the boats to burn. Investigators said if could take days before they determine the cause.

“We’re going to have to go through, we’re going to have to look at each boat individually to see if there was anything on them to have contributed to fire spread, that ignited the fire or anything like that,” Goodman said.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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