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Winter weather challenged firefighters attack on fire at Clover Island

KEPR Action News
KEPR Action News
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Firefighters reveal that freezing conditions challenged their firefighting efforts on a massive fire that damaged four boathouses at the Clover Island Marina boat dock in Kennewick.

On Dec. 7, just after 7:30 a.m., Kennewick Fire Department crews responded to Clover Island in Kennewick for a reported boathouse fire.

Firefighters from Benton County Fire District 1, the Pasco Fire Department, and the Kennewick Police Department assisted KFD.

While in route to the scene, the on-duty Kennewick Battalion Chief requested a response from the Pasco Fire Department fireboat.

Officials said the first fire engine that was dispatched to the area, had a slightly delayed response due to a train preventing a direct response to the incident on Washington St., which required the crew to use a nearby alternative route on Washington State Route 397.

Kennewick Fire Department’s ladder truck was the first on scene. Arriving crews discovered a massive fire that was threatening several nearby boathouses. Firefighters immediately attached fire hoses to a pre-plumbed standpipe system on the dock intended to be used for fires that occur in the marina.

Officials said firefighting efforts were hampered by water supply issues due to the freezing conditions. When firefighters determined the standpipe to be frozen and in-operable, they quickly moved to an alternative solution. Firefighters began working to place a trunk line (a 2 1/2” hose line) down the dock that could be used to supply water to the fire attack hoses. Officials said freezing conditions prevented use of the nearest fire hydrant.

Winter weather also created challenges for Pasco Fire Department’s boat crew. Pasco firefighters were unable to pump water from the fireboat due to freezing conditions. Within a few minutes, Pasco’s boat crew deposited water in locations that firefighters working from the dock were unable to reach.

Officials said firefighters quickly recovered and developed alternative plans for water supply and fire attack. Firefighters focused on protecting nearby boathouses and extinguishing the fire.

Concern for the potential of a rapidly spreading fire prompted the Incident Commander to request additional fire engines from agencies Benton and Franklin Counties. Richland Fire & Emergency Services, the Pasco Fire Department, and Benton County Fire District 1 all provided resources in response to this request.

Once firefighters determined the fire was contained, the Incident Commander shifted the crews response to environmental protection by a directing spill containment boom to be placed on the water. The Port of Kennewick, the Pasco Fire Department fireboat, and the Benton County Sheriff’s boat placed a containment boom until the Department of Ecology arrived on scene to lead the operation.

Officials said two boathouses were a complete loss from the fire and an additional two boathouses sustained minor exterior damage. It is estimated between 50-150 gallons of boat fuel spilled into the water as a result of the fire.

There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians from the fire. Kennewick Police Department located two individuals in one of the nearby boathouses and they self-evacuated. The other boathouses in the area were unoccupied at the time of the fire.

The Kennewick Fire Department remained on scene throughout the night to put out hot spots and fire flare-ups. The fire department said they are working with impacted stakeholders to address access challenges that are preventing the fire from being fully extinguished.

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Officials of the Department of Ecology will work closely with the Clover Island Yacht Club and the Port of Kennewick on environmental cleanup and the process of removing the destroyed boathouses.

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