B1FullHub Staff

A quick response from the Saugeen Shores Fire Department possibly saved a lot more boats than the seven that were destroyed in the early morning fire at the Port Elgin Harbour.

Saugeen Shores Fire Chief, Phil Eagleson said that they received the call at 2:39am and were at the scene at 2:45am. In total there were 37 firefighters and six fire trucks from both Port Elgin and Southampton stations on the scene.

A Saugeen Shores Police report says that Saugeen Shores Police, Fire and Bruce County EMS were dispatched to the scene. On arrival at the boat storage area of the Port Elgin harbour, police found seven boats (sail and power) fully engulfed in flames. The boats had been lined up side by side for winter storage.

Eagleson said they have no idea at this point of the cause of the explosion. “We're bringing in all the resources we can and we're going to do a lot of interviewing, witness statements and start there and we're going to start pulling apart the debris and the rubble this afternoon and dig in.

“It was a very large explosion, large in size but also very powerful," he said. “There's a washroom building about 80 feet from where the boats were and it was damaged, the structure of the building was damaged, it blew debris over 400 feet away from the explosion and then immediately after the explosion we're presuming at this point the other boats caught on fire and spread quickly,” Eagleson explained.

The flames were well over 80 feet in the air. “Very, very hot, intense fire, it spread quickly to all those seven boats. Our crews were there fairly quickly and we were challenged to just keep the next row of boats from burning," said Eagleson.

The first boat closest to the fire in another row of boats, along the east side, was wrapped in shrink wrap, which had started to burn but they were able to cool it enough to keep it from burning. “That row would have been very hard to put out,” Eagleson continued.

He said that as far as the investigation goes, Saugeen Shores Fire, Saugeen Shores Police and the Fire Marshall's office are all currently investigating cooperatively. "We're interviewing people and we're also going to start looking at the physical evidence of the boats."

Eagleson said that there is no evidence but at the moment it looks like the centre of the seven boats was possibly where it originated.

There were no injuries and they had been successful in contacting each of the boat owners and had made sure that they didn't know of any other family members that may have been in the boats. “Quite often what we see is people come up late in the fall, pull a boat out, work at it for a couple of days winterizing and they'll just live in the boat with sleeping bags and a little heater," he said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Saugeen Shores Police Service at 519-832-9200.

See also: Explosion at Port Elgin Harbour and No criminal activity suspected