Marina fire cause under investigation

In the light of the day after the fire, this is all that remains of the five boats that once occupied these slips at the Tyee Marina in Tacoma.

One boat is underwater. Two are nearly submerged. And the two that are still floating are beyond repair.

So once the fire was out, the concern shifted to the 100 gallons of fuel estimated to be on board the five boats.

"The biggest things with oil spills or dangerous materials spill is getting on it right away," said Shawn Zaniewski, a spill responder with the state Department of Ecology.

He says Tacoma Fire responded with firefighters and special booms to corral any oil that spilled.

"So they had two pieces of barriers from stopping it from going out to Commencement Bay itself," said Zaniewski.

Cries for help could be heard clearly as heard in a recording the first person on the scene made of the fierce flames, as he approached a man who had fallen into the water.

The man and a woman were rescued.

The man declined to talk on-camera, but he said the fire started just after 7:30 Sunday morning with a loud boom. It soon spread to nearby boats, forcing firefighters to fight the fire from the water.

Their quick work is credited with preventing even more damage.

"I mean, it's very unfortunate to see people lose their boats like this," said Zaniewski. "At the same time, the potential was a lot bigger. And so they were really lucky. And as well as the fire (department) being able to deploy those booms and get on the fire right away."

The preliminary investigation showed that the fire may have started in the bilge pump of one of the boats. But fire investigators still do not have a definitive answer.

That may come when the boats are actually lifted out of the water later this week.