SEATTLE - An early-morning fire swallowed a 105-foot luxury touring vessel at Fisherman’s Terminal.
The “Safari Spirit," owned by a local cruise line, was fully engulfed in flames when the Seattle Fire Department arrived at the terminal around 1 a.m. on Friday.
Owner Dan Blanchard was on the boat with an engineer when the fire broke out. He told KIRO 7 News reporter Rick Price that he and the engineer had to shimmy down a mooring line to reach the dock and get away from the fire.
“It’s just starting to set in. I'm just thankful that Steve and I made it off the boat OK,” said Blanchard.
Firefighters boarded the boat for a brief time before being forced out to fire defensively, Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore said. Crews set up a perimeter around the vessel.
Blanchard said he heard a strange pop, and in the minutes the boat was filled with smoke and flames were shooting up its sides.
“We couldn't even get back to get our phones. It moved so fast that we actually had to go over the side to get to the dock. We shimmied down the lines and fell in,” said Blanchard.
A Seattle-based Coast Guard boat enforced a safety zone around the terminal and deployed a containment and absorbent boom to reduce potential environmental damage.
The fire burned for hours into the morning. Nine hours after the fire erupted, the hulk was still smoking.
Moore said the fire was under investigation. No cause will be determined Friday because once the boat cools off, it still needs to be inspected by a marine engineer to determine whether it's safe for investigators to go aboard, he said.
The yacht was set to leave on May 5 on an Alaskan cruise. One of four boats in the fleet, its destruction means Blanchard is scrambling to accommodate passengers.
“Fortunately, we've got a couple boats coming on line this summer, and we're working even as we speak on contacting those clients and trying to get them to move over to a different date,” said Blanchard.
As people came by to gawk at the charred remains, Blanchard tried to put the loss into perspective.
“A lot of people, even the response folks, some of them worked on that boat years ago with me. It’s a big part of the Fisherman’s Terminal family here,” said Blanchard.
No one was hurt.