Washington Waterfront Marina Burns

GIG HARBOR, Wash. (AP) -- A downtown marina was engulfed in flame early Wednesday, spewing billowing black smoke as 50 boats burned to the waterline.

Gig Harbor Fire Department spokeswoman Penny Hulse said no injuries had been reported. One person living aboard a boat fled the covered marina, but his boat was charred, she said.

''Fuel and fiberglass burn very quickly,'' Hulse said. ''When we arrived the flames were 30 feet high. We're mainly working to keep the fire from spreading.''

A fire boat was being dispatched from nearby Tacoma to help 40 local firefighters.

Witnesses reported hearing boats explode around 7:30 a.m. Within an hour, the Harborview Marina was an inferno. Hulse said the fire started on one boat and quickly spread.

Fire crews were still on the scene scene at noon, monitoring smoldering wreckage and dousing occasional small flareups.

''The whole roof is down at the dock level right now, just a rumpled pile of blackened aluminum,'' said teacher Ross Pomerenk, who has a boat at a nearby marina. ''It's really depressing. I feel sorry for those poor people,'' Pomerenk said.

Janis McKee, a prep cook at the nearby Tides Tavern, said she was drawn outside by the sound of boats exploding.

''The smoke was just hurling out of there,'' McKee said, adding that she believes the marina holds some of the biggest yachts in the harbor.

Damage is likely to run into the millions of dollars. A fire investigator was on the scene, Hulse said.

Gig Harbor is on the Key Peninsula at the south end of Puget Sound.

It appeared the damage could have been much more extensive, Pomerenk said.

''It was pretty impressive how they kept the dock adjacent to it'' from catching fire, he said. ''One boat did break loose and drifted that way in flames. Firefighters were able to push it off with some big poles.''

Most of the boats were fiberglass pleasure craft _ some as big as 60 feet, Pomerenk said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press

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