ATF to help investigate Kent Co. boat fires 3 destroyed, 4 damaged

cost estimate at $2 million

November 25, 1996|By Erin Texeira | Erin Texeira,SUN STAFF

Investigators from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will help determine the cause of a fire Saturday that destroyed three luxury yachts and damaged four other boats at a marina in Kent County, a state fire marshal said yesterday.

The high estimate of damage -- $2 million -- and the fact that two of the damaged yachts were commercially owned led local fire officials to call in ATF, said Faron Taylor, deputy fire state marshal.

"They can bring additional resources into the investigation that the county can't muster," Taylor said.

The fire at the Georgetown Yacht Basin, about 15 miles north of Chestertown on the Sassafras River, began before 4 a.m. Saturday and burned for nearly two hours before being extinguished by 75 firefighters from Kent and nearby counties, Taylor said.

About 150 gallons of diesel fuel spilled from the burning yachts into the river that feeds the Chesapeake Bay, Taylor said, and was cleaned up by the Coast Guard and the Maryland Department of the Environment.

"It's just a sickening feeling to see that your boat is gone," said Edward Adleman, 72, whose yacht Jace was destroyed in the fire. "My wife had just redecorated it. We went out cruising on the Chesapeake every weekend. It was like a second home to us."

Adleman, a New Jersey motion picture executive whose 53-foot boat was insured, declined to give the replacement value.

The yacht that apparently caused the blaze, a 57-foot Chris Craft that sank Saturday, will remain submerged until Friday, when a crane will be used to lift it, Taylor said. Investigators will not know what caused the blaze until they examine the yacht, he said.

Pub Date: 11/25/96

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