By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“It's really bad,” said Karen Broome, a Brinnon resident who almost had finished repairing
the Treasure Hunter, a 50-foot Navy pilot ship that was built in 1942.
“The cost to repair it will be high, but if the other boat owners will let me, I will come in and repair their boats for them,” she added.
No one was injured, but the Treasure Hunter was badly damaged, and adjacent wooden boats in the boatyard of Port Townsend Boat Haven — the Alma A, Del Norte and Sea Gypsy — were seered by the heat and flames, said Bill Beezley, East Jefferson Fire-Rescue spokesman.
The heat also melted part of the hull of the Amarosa, an aluminium boat moored next to the Treasure Hunter.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by East Jefferson Fire-Rescue with assistance from the Port Townsend Police Department.
Broome, 52, has spent the past three years restoring the vessel, which she acquired for free in exchange for paying the moorage charges.
“A lot of people would walk away from this, but I'm not a quitter, and anything is possible,” she said.
“The keel is still there, and there is still a lot left.”
Broome said she saw a spark and smelled smoke on the boat Wednesday afternoon but spent that night on the boat and didn't see or smell anything unusual at that time.
She returned to Brinnon on Thursday because her bathroom was being repaired.
“I wish I would have spent the night here last night,” she said.
“I would have smelled the smoke, I would have put the fire out, and the other boats wouldn't have been damaged,” Broome said.
Broome lacks savings or insurance, she said. She recently started a lumber company and will use that source to supply the wood needed for the repairs to the other boats.
The fire, reported at about 8:50 a.m., spread quickly, melting the plastic sheeting that was covering the boat while it was undergoing repairs, Beezley said.
Firefighters arrived within three minutes of the call to find a towering plume of black smoke.
The fire was brought under control in about 10 minutes and extinguished about 15 minutes later, Beezley said.
Live-aboard Marshall Woodman was sleeping on the Sea Gypsy when he was awakened by Port of Port Townsend staff.
“I heard someone come up my ladder. I looked out and saw flames,” he said.
“I got dressed, grabbed the cat and got out.”
Firefighters stood on the bow of the Sea Gypsy and directed the hoses directly onto the Treasure Hunter.
The Sea Gypsy's bow was charred by the flames but did not catch fire after firefighters hosed down the charred portion.
Naval Magazine Indian Island firefighters assisted, and Quilcene Fire Chief Larry Karp also was on the scene.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.