Illegal fireworks cause $1.5 million boat fire in Seattle

by: Alison Grande Updated:


SEATTLE - Friday morning, owners of more than a dozen boats destroyed in a fireworks-caused fire began arriving at the Lake Union boatyard where they burned Thursday night. 

When Jeff York got there around 6:30 a.m. Friday, reporters asked what he was thinking about on seeing his Bayliner for the first time. 

"My toasted plans for wake-boarding tomorrow morning,” he said. "My brother's in town, had it all lined up, and I get a call last night.  My buddy there says, 'Our boat's on fire, in our rack.'"

The fire started about 10 p.m. near the 2500 block of North Northlake Way by North 37th Street.

Seattle fire investigators say illegal fireworks are to blame for the fire that destroyed 14 boats, and damaged 4 more.

Cory Crosby works at Lake Union Sky Launch by Seattle Boat Company along North Northlake Way. He saw the fire and rushed to try to isolate the boat in the vertical storage racks away from the water.

“At that point, there was just one boat on fire.  I ran down to try to pull  it out as fast as I could so it wouldn’t catch the other boats, “ said Crosby. “By the time I got down to it- it got to the next boat and it just spread like wildfire,” he said.

Witnesses saw a firework land on the boat cover of a Master Craft on the second level of the storage racks. Crosby used the boat lift and pulled the burning boat out of the slot in the storage structure to try to keep the fire from spreading.  “The only thing I was thinking is I just want to get this boat out, to get that one boat out. It went way too quick, “ said Crosby.

He tried to use a fire extinguisher, but it was no match for fully engulfed boat. He said it was a matter of minutes before the flames spread and damaged 17 more boats. The fiberglass and fuel on board the boats made the fire spread quickly.  Crosby could feel the intense heat and had to move back.

One firefighter received minor injuries fighting the fire.

Seattle Fire Department investigators said the fire caused $1.5 million in damages.  The Seattle Police Arson and Bomb Squad is also investigating the fire

Neighbors who live behind Sky Launch Marina say they saw people setting off illegal fireworks.  Patricia Johnson was out picking up garbage in her neighborhood from Thursday’s  celebration. She thinks she knows where the fireworks came from,

“I have a strong suspicion, “ said Johnson, “the had some sizeable ones.” 

Neighbor Melvin Goldberg heard it too.

“Just some real bangs over the house, “ described Goldberg.

The fire is disappointing for Crosby - he knows the owners of all 14 boats that were damaged.

He was going to spend the night at the facility and contact each boat owner.