On Thursday, Jan. 19 fire service responders from across the Kenai Peninsula service area responded to a fire on the R/V Qualifier in the Northern Enterprises Boatyard on Kachemak Drive.
“Almost every fire department in the Southern Kenai Peninsula was at the scene,” vessel owner Dave Mastolier told the Homer News in a phone interview.
The fire was first reported by crew members on board the vessel.
“We have safety protocols in place, and our crewman followed it to a T. And everybody got off the boat fine,” Mastolier said.
The crew capacity for the boat is usually five, with an additional eight to 12 researchers on board, he said.
The 105-foot Qualifier’s primary duty typically is creating hydrographic surveys, charts for NOAA and contract work with other government agencies. The boat is part of the fleet operated by Support Vessels of Alaska, the company owned by Mastolier and partner Jared Bradshaw.
The vessel operates all over the state of Alaska. “It could be out in the Aleutians, up towards the Arctic or down in South East,” Mastolier said.
The cause of the fire and extent of the damage is not yet known, Mastolier said, noting that it’s ” … not as bad as we thought but it’s definitely not in good shape.”
He said he was unsure of the repairability of the ship, and expects it will be a month before he has any more definite answers.
“This is not an easy time. This is a major loss for us and we’re trying to get through this the best we can,” he said. “It’s a scary ordeal.”