Firefighters stop boat fire from reaching Petaluma dock

Two people escaped a fire that destroyed a 40-foot yacht tied to a dock in downtown Petaluma early Saturday morning.|

Two people escaped from a fire that destroyed a 40-foot yacht tied to a dock along the Petaluma River early Saturday morning.

The Petaluma Fire Department got the call at 4 a.m., Interim Assistant Chief Chad Costa said. The boat was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived, but they put out the blaze in about 30 minutes, Costa said.

The boat was docked in front of the River Front Cafe in a stretch of the river called the Turning Basin south of the East Washington Street bridge.

The two people who were staying on board escaped uninjured, Costa said. The boat was not their primary residence, but they were staying on board for the weekend.

Authorities did not believe boat fuel had spilled into the water, Costa said. Firefighters and agents from the United States Fish and Wildlife Department and the U.S. Coast Guard were evaluating the environmental hazards Saturday morning.

Fuel remains on board the boat and needs to be safely extracted, Costa said. Crews from the different agencies were placing a boom around the boat to prevent any contaminants from escaping into the river.

The boat owner and Fish and Wildlife Department officials were working to hire a salvage company to remove the burned out hulk of the boat from the basin. Costa could not estimate when that removal would occur.

Firefighters kept the fire from spreading to the dock or any surrounding structures, including a railroad span that crosses the river nearby, Costa said.

Costa said it is challenging to combat fires on boats, but it is something the department has trained to do.

“It could have been a lot of worse, obviously," he said.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation. Fire investigators estimated there was around $500,000 in damage.

You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Graham at 707-526-8667 or On Twitter @AndrewGraham88

Andrew Graham

Business enterprise and investigations, The Press Democrat 

I dig into businesses, utility companies and nonprofits to learn how their actions, or inactions, impact the lives of North Bay residents. I’m looking to dive deep into public utilities, labor struggles and real estate deals. I try to approach my work with the journalism axioms of giving voice to the voiceless, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable in mind.

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.
Send a letter to the editor