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Fire destroys High Hopes vessel

Harbor firefighter Bart Kast talks with witnesses while a fishing boat High Hopes is consumed by flames in a parking lot at the Port of Brookings Harbor Saturday. Photo courtesy of Martin Shepherd.

The 24-foot recreational vessel High Hopes was completely destroyed in a fire at the public boat dock Saturday afternoon.

According to Port of Brookings Harbor Director Ted Fitzgerald, the owner, Robert Phillips of Brookings, had just filled the tank of his 2005 Trophy with fuel and launched the boat in the water. Phillips was trying to start the motor and, failing to do so, pulled the boat from the water.

At that point, it started fire, possibly from built-up fuel fumes ignited by a blower in the engine compartment, Fitzgerald said.

“He had it at the top of the loading dock and got his truck out of the way, which was good,” said Bart Kast, assistant fire chief with Harbor Fire Rescue. “And he kept it away from the buildings, which was good.”

Martin Shepherd and his wife, Nicki, who had opted not to put their boat on the sea that day, were eating at Sporthaven Marina and witnessed the incident. She said the heat coming off the boat was so intense, the couple could feel it through the windows of the restaurant.

Port officials placed pollution booms around the boat to prevent contamination of nearby water, and pumped contaminated water from the boat and disposed of it. 

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