Two people were injured when a fire broke out at a fuel dock in Whittier on Tuesday, sinking one boat and damaging the dock.
Multiple emergency units from both Whittier and Girdwood responded to the harbor around noon Tuesday. Girdwood Fire Chief Michelle Weston said that medics evaluated two people who were transported from the scene via LifeMed.
Fletcher Morrison, a commercial fisherman who docks his boat at the Whittier Harbor, was in the area when the fire broke out shortly before noon. He described hearing a bang, then looking out of his vessel to see a boat fueling up at the dock go up in flames.
“It happened really quick,” he said.
Morrison said firefighters got to the scene pretty quickly. Whittier Fire Chief Richard Valentine said shortly after 5 p.m. that the fire had been extinguished.
The flames consumed three fuel pumps at the station operated by Shoreside Petroleum, said Whittier Harbormaster David Borg. The boat involved in the fire also sank, he said.
Borg described the dock as “unusable at this time.” It’s the only fueling platform in the Whittier Harbor, he said.
It appeared that the fire had melted the vinyl off the face of the building that sits on the fuel dock, Borg said, but firefighters were able to save the building itself.
Borg said it’s too early to know the full extent of damage to the dock and the building, but he said it would likely be unusable at least for the next 24-48 hours until a solid evaluation can be made. That has big implications for the city’s commercial fishing fleet, Borg said.
“We’re at the peak of our commercial fishing season right now,” he said.
Most of the commercial fleet is currently out, Borg said, and he expects vessels will start coming back between Thursday and Saturday. Not having a facility for them to get fuel would be a major issue, he said.
Recreational boats can fuel up on their way to Whittier, but Borg said many commercial vessels that rely on shoreside fuel service.
“I’m very concerned,” he said.
The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel that leads to and from Whittier was temporarily closed during the fire.