MANZANITA, Ore. — The captain of a fishing boat was rescued after the vessel caught fire off the coast of Manzanita Beach on Saturday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).
An initial distress call came in at 6:30 a.m., USCG said, coming from a 42-foot fishing boat located about 2 miles west of Manzanita. A Coast Guard crew out of Tillamook responded, but found that a good Samaritan in another fishing boat had already rescued the boat captain.
Though their condition was initially unknown, USCG said that the rescued fisher — the owner and only crew member aboard the boat when it caught fire — was transferred over to the Coast Guard responders and had no medical concerns.
“The captain was very, very lucky that there was another boat on scene to assist him, otherwise he would’ve been in a lot of trouble very quickly,” said BM1 Aaron Harris with USCG Motor Lifeboat Station Tillamook Bay. “More than likely if that other boat hadn’t been there he would’ve been forced to enter the water and wait for us.”
Flames on the fishing boat continued to burn for hours as the Coast Guard maintained a 1000-yard safety zone around it.
By 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, USCG said that the boat had burned down to the waterline and continued to smolder. It had moved to within a mile west of Nehalem State Park. Coast Guard crews were still monitoring the hulk.
Harris said that the USCG is working with the boat's owner and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to figure out a salvage plan — seeing if the remnants can be brought back into shore, or if they'll need to wait for it to wash up. Crews are also monitoring for any pollution concerns.
The boat was a fiberglass-hulled commercial salmon trawler. Harris said that the fire reportedly started in the boat's "stack," which is not uncommon. Not unlike a chimney, Harris said that stacks can have gradual buildup that eventually causes a fire — and once fiberglass boats start burning, they tend to stay burning.
While the boat owner tried to put out the fire with extinguishers, it soon spread to wooden cabinets and fiberglass within the vessel. The owner told the Coast Guard that the boat was fully engulfed within about five minutes of noticing the fire.