A smoldering electrical fire gutted the interior of a 41-foot pleasure boat in Petersburg’s South Harbor in the late Friday night. No one was aboard the motor vessel Sea Haven, which was moored at B float. Assistant Fire Chief Dave Berg says the department was called out just before eleven that night.
“The boat, when we got to it, didn’t look like it was on fire or even had really flashed over but there was a significant level of heat damage inside the vessel that caused a great deal of interior damage basically from the ceiling to the floor,” he said.
Berg said the department was still investigating the cause, but it looked like it involved a bad outlet and extension cord connected to a heater.
“You know this time of year, people are using all kinds of heat sources on boats and they are real suspect, especially if you are not watching them, or maintaining them. Anytime you’ve got a cord that’s running a heater or kind of a high amperage load on it, the cord can overheat very easily and even cords that appear to be not very warm, or hot to the touch, can significantly degrade over time in our weather. Salt air and other moisture causes a lot of trouble with extension cords. When you don’t have a good connection the heat builds up in the connection. You may pull them apart and see black tongs on the plugs or excess heat building up. So, that’s really something to watch out for when you are using alternative heat sources on boats.”
According to Berg, the boat was shut up tight enough that the lack of oxygen kept it from spreading to the exterior. However, harbor staff moved a neighboring boat just in case.