Christmas Eve fire destroys Port barge

  • Dec. 31, 2008 4:00 p.m.

The 83-year-old sternwheeler, known as the Kumdis River Lodge, was destroyed by fire on Christmas Eve. Port Clements firemen received the call at 10:30 am on Dec. 24. Fire chief Craig Beachy says smoke was visible from the town’s small craft harbour and Port Clements resident Dave Unsworth saw it from there. “He saw the smoke coming from around the corner of the bay,” says Mr. Beachy. At that point no one knew what was on fire. Fifteen members responded, but by the time the firemen got to the site at the end of Port’s Industrial Road, the boat was engulfed by an orange glow. “It was a fireball,” says Mr. Beachy. The firefighters, who were on site until 4:30 pm, could only access one side of the vessel, which sat in the water of Kumdis Bay, making it difficult to beat the fire. They were able to save the dock and Mr. Beachy says two firefighters returned to the site and stayed until 10:30 pm to ensure the dock didn’t catch fire from any of the wreckage. There were four 100-pound propane tanks and one stove oil tank aboard the boat, but none of the contaminants got into the water, he says. “The hull never burned through.” Mr. Beachy says the fire must have been going for quite some time before they arrived. The cause is undetermined but insurance inspectors were due on site Dec. 30. Langara Fishing Adventures used the barge as staff accommodations and an occasional dining room. The fire will not affect the Kumdis River Lodge guest accommodations, as these are in separate buildings on shore. More stories, page 4.