Boatyards and Yachts Burn in $1,000,000 Blaze
Fire July 12th, starting with an explosion aboard the 58-ft. pleasure yacht Maquis, laid up for repairs in a shed at the City Island, N. Y., Yacht Basin, Inc., on the east side of the Island, facing Long Island Sound, destroyed six large motor craft, and spread to seven buildings before firemen, responding to five alarms, brought it under control. it is reportedly the first time fivealarms have been struck for a blaze in that area.
Cause of the blast was attributed to ignition of volatile fumes by Fire Marshal Sullivan of the New York Fire Department. The explosions, following in rapid order, spread the fire quickly over an area of 350 x 150 feet. Five frame buildings in the yard were destroyed, including costly motor boats and yachts. The mechanic who was working on the cruiser in which the fire developed was seriously burned.
After involving the Maquis, flames reached the wooden roof of the shed, of cinderblock and steel girder construction. A strong wind carried the fire to buildings of the Consolidated Shipbuilding Corp. and threatened nearby houses on Marine street, a dozen of which were evacuated by police. Six buildings of 20 on Consolidated property, which covers a block of waterfront north of the boatyard, were damaged.
The pumper of Engine 70, whose quarters are only a few blocks away, and which hooked up to the nearest hydrant, was so exposed that it later had to be abandoned when heat blistered its side and ruined two tires.
The water supply feeding City Island, which is a typical main street summer time fishing and boating hamlet, is hardly up to supplying five-alarm assignments of pumpers, and as pumpers rolled in on succeeding alarms and hooked to hydrants pressure dropped to four pounds, and Deputy Chief Powers, in charge of operations, ordered all pumping engines to use fireboat water, from the fireboat Willett from Hell Gate which arrived with Chief Carlen of the Marine Division in charge.
Chief Carlen stretched two 3 1/2-in. lines from the boat, which were fanned out at the bulkhead into six 2 1/2-in. lines, which did effective work on the fire.
Chronology of ala.rms was as follows:
1:30 P.M. Box 4557, City Island ave. and Pilot st.: Engine 70 (second section; E. 70 operates as a double cornpany in summer), 97; Ladder 53,50; Act. Batt. Chf. Neissner, 20th Batt. Numerous telephone alarms.
1:26 P.M. Second alarm: Engs. 89, 38, 64; L. 51 ; Act. Dep. Chf. Pilner. Div. 7. Locating: E. 71/89; E. 73/64; L. 32/51.
1:36 P.M. Third alarm: Engs. 90. 62. 88; Rescue 3; L. 47; Chief Nugent 18th Batt. Locating: E. 43/62; E. 80/43; E. 59/73; E. 76/59; L. 48/47. Chief Petronelli in Charge Manhattan and Bronx, Dr. Archer and Dr. Finestone with Ambulance 1 ; Canteen No. 9 with the “Third Alarmers” and “refreshments.” 1:51 P.M. Fourth alarm: Engs. 45, 48, 79. No ladder. Locating: E. 41/45; E. 91/45; E. 47/80. No ladder. Fire Chief Powers in charge of department; Fire Commissioner Horowitz; Dep. Chief Fire Marshal Gribbon and Asst. Marshals Washington and Sullivan; Chaplain Farley; Chief Thomas O’Brien in charge, Bureau of Fire Alarm Telegraph ; members of the Fire Bell Club and other buffs organizations.
1:55 P.M. Special call, Fireboat Willett with Chief Carlen.
2:02 P.M. Fifth alarm: Engs. 75, 46, 82; no ladder. Locating: E. 67/75, 83/82; E. 35/83. No ladder truck changes.
Total: 15 pumpers, 4 ladders, one rescue and one fireboat.
The fire drew many city officials, including Commissioner George Monaghan, who only three days before had become head of the Police Department.