Fishing boat burns in harbor

  • The F/V Linda Kay burns at the Homer Harbor early Thursday, Nov. 3.-Photo by Russell Campbell; Wandering Nomad Photography

Editor's note: The name of Louie Gjosund was spelled incorrectly and has been corrected.

An early morning fire burned to the deck a 32-foot commercial fishing boat at the Homer Harbor on Nov. 3.

In the first use of a new harbor fire-fighting system, Homer Volunteer Fire Department firefighters and Homer harbor officers were able to keep the fire from spreading to nearby boats and harbor floats.

The fire burned the superstructure of the F/V Linda Kay, a fiberglass gillnet boat built by Basargin Boats. The fire did not injure anyone at the harbor or anyone who responded. No gas or oil spilled.

The boat was hauled out of the harbor later that day and taken to the Homer Boatyard.

Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins said the fire burned the cabin, exhausts, rigging and everything from the deck up. The fire did not burn through the hull.

“All of that’s gone. It probably melted into the boat,” he said.

The Linda Kay is owned by Louie and and Tamara Gjosund of Anchorage. The family has Homer roots. The Gjosunds bought the boat in 2015 and fished it for two seasons.

Harbor officer Mike Lowe noticed the fire from the harbor office on the north side of the harbor when he heard an explosion and then saw flames. He called it in at 1:03 a.m., Hawkins said. Someone else also heard an explosion and saw the fire from the south side of the fire and also called 911.

The Linda Kay was docked on D Float between Ramps 1 and 2. Photos taken by Russell Campbell of Wandering Nomad Photography show the deck and cabin of the boat fully engulfed in flames.

Hawkins said firefighters had the fire under control within a half hour of the call.

“It was out by 1:30 a.m., but we were all breathing easy by then,” he said. “That’s quite a response from a volunteer fire department. I’m impressed.”

The Linda Kay did not have a stall mate right next to it in the 40-foot long stall, but there was a boat across the finger float. The finger float and boat escaped damage. The Linda Kay did not sink, and after the fire was out it was towed to the load/launch ramp and taken out by sunrise.

Lowe, the harbor officer, staged the fire before firefighters showed up. The harbor has fire fighting equipment on self-propelled carts stored in fire sheds space throughout the harbor, including a shed at Ramp 2. That car includes a pump powers by a gas engine that draws water from the harbor. Harbor officers also can provide water from a pump on the harbor tug.

As part of $8.4 million in harbor improvements completed in 2015, the city rebuilt float systems, including a dry fireline between D through S floats. When firefighters respond to a fire, as they did early Thursday, they connect tanker-pumpers to the fireline, connect it to a hydrant and send pressurized water through the line, where they can connect to the line closer to boats. That allows firefighters to attack fires without the delay of hauling fire hoses.

“We’re not just relying on our harbor carts. Now we’ve got the harbor carts, the dry fireline system and the harbor tug,” Hawkins said. “The harbor tug comes in real handy on fires. You can get to the float you can’t reach with the fire system.”

Homer harbor officers patrol the harbor 24 hours daily, Hawkins noted.

“Twenty-four hour watch is absolutely essential when you’re thinking about how many millions of dollars of personal property and public property,” Hawkins said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

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