Arson Yet Unproven In Rapidly Spreading Lake Arrowhead Fire That Charred 12 Boats

A conflagration on the water at Lake Arrowhead’s north shore on July 16 that destroyed seven boats and did substantial damage to five others has been deemed to be “highly suspicious” by the team of investigators with the San Bernardino County Fire Department who have looked into what occurred.
Damages in excess of $2 million were sustained in the fire that broke out on or next to Dock #4 at Lake Arrowhead’s North Shore Marina shortly after 4 a.m. Friday July 16. The 20-slip dock and seven of the boats there were total losses. Two of the boats were entirely consumed to the point where little more than the keel and an entirely charred boat deck was all that was left, such that the vessels were left visually unidentifiable.
A first call came into the fire department’s dispatch center at 4:05 a.m. It is believed that an effort to reach the Arrowhead Lake Association safety office was made prior to the call summoning the fire department. At that hour, the safety office was not manned.
Upon the arrival of the first fire crew, which had been dispatched from Fire Station 92, ten boats were already aflame, as was the dock. Fire Station 92 is located at 981 North State Highway 173 in Lake Arrowhead, roughly 1,000 feet east of Lake Arrowhead’s east shore.
The crew quickly manned Fireboat 92, and moved into close proximity to the dock.
This entailed some danger, as there were explosions from fuel stores on some of the boats.
Using the watergun on the fireboat’s deck as well as hoses, the firefighters sprayed the flames, while a land-based crew maneuvered into position from the other side of the dock.
In addition to braving the fires, the crew was subjected to the hazard of noxious fumes, as the boat hulls were largely composed of fiberglass.
Within a half hour of the fire team’s arrival, the flames had been doused.
Nevertheless, damage was extensive.
In the aftermath of the fire, there was charred debris spreading out from the dock toward the middle of the lake and fanning in both directions from the dock along the shore.
Arson investigators, led by Hector Trevino, were doing a chemical analysis of the debris, the ships and the dock to determine if an accelerant was present. That so many boats and the dock caught fire so quickly is highly unusual. There was no word on the results of the chemical analysis of the fire remnants.
Witnesses, consisting primarily of residents of the north shore, reported that individuals carrying flashlights were seen and heard near the gate to the dock within an hour prior to the fire. There were also reports of vandalism to boats that were not damaged in the fire.
-Mark Gutglueck

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