July blaze damages CT River boatyard - Soundings Online

July blaze damages CT River boatyard

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A fire swept through the Yankee Boatyard in Portland, Conn., July 6, damaging several buildings on the property.

A fire swept through the Yankee Boatyard in Portland, Conn., July 6, damaging several buildings on the property. Although damage was extensive, the yard owners say they will rebuild.

“We’re open for business,” says co-owner Jon Hipsher.

More than 40 firefighters from Portland and from five nearby towns responded to the blaze that was reported at 10:30 a.m., a news report says. According to Portland Fire Chief Robert Shea, the fire apparently began in or near a paint booth near the center of the 7.7-acre property located along the Connecticut River. While five buildings were either destroyed or severely damaged, firefighters were able to keep the flames away from a 500-gallon propane tank, four 100-gallon propane tanks and containers of acetylene gas (used for welding).

State environmental officials said that the chemical runoff into the river posed no environmental threat.

Ronald E. Bourbeau, co-owner of the yard, says in a news report that the estimated property damage is “in the millions.” Hipsher says insurance will cover the rebuilding.

Destroyed was a two-story building complex that included the yard office, ships store and service facilities. No mechanical or repair service will be available at the yard for the rest of the season, Hipsher says, but Yankee Associates, which runs the yard, hopes to rebuild on the site by the end of the year. Only two of the dozens of boats on the yard were damaged.

A trailer was brought on-site a week after the fire to serve as a temporary office. The gas dock and slips were unaffected by the fire and the yard will still offer haul-out and winter storage this fall, Hipsher says.

“Summer business is operating as normal as can be,” he says.

Two firefighters received minor injuries and were taken to an area hospital for treatment. The cause of the fire was not immediately determined.