On Sunday, June 12, 2022, at 2:02 am, along with multiple mutual aid companies, the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company was dispatched to Great Oak Landing & Resort, 22170 Great Oak landing Road, for the Marina Fire. 9-1-1 callers were reporting a medium-sized power boat on fire. Our Engine 68 responded with a full complement of personnel, totaling seven (7) personnel. Approaching the Great Oak neighborhood, it was evident a working fire was in progress. A column of black smoke was visible in relief against the night sky. A Working Fire Dispatch, which adds additional emergency resources to the response, was dispatched at 2:18 am.
Engine 68, first arriving, found a 42-foot power boat fully involved with fire. It was located at the very end of an 800-foot pier, the longest one at Great Oak Marina. Two occupants of the vessel had been awakened by the situation and were able to safely evacuate the boat. A brief, unsuccessful attempt was made to control the fire with a portable fire extinguisher. This attempt was quickly abandoned due to fire conditions.
Some piers at Great Oak Marina have a firefighting standpipe installed. Most often seen in large / high-rise structures, a standpipe is a system of piping and associated connections which facilitates firefighting operations. The engine hooks into the standpipe, a crew carrying hose and related connections which are then hooked to the other end of the standpipe. When available, this system greatly speeds firefighting operations. Without it’s availability, firefighters must stretch hose by hand, which is time-consuming. This pier is not equipped with a standpipe.
Confronted with a medium-sized vessel on fire, firefighters proceeded to hand jack (stretch by hand) 800 feet of 3” supply hose to the end of the pier. Two 1-3/4” firefighting hoses were then connected. Once the supply hose was deployed, wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE) including self-contained breathing apparatus, firefighters began aggressively knocking the fire down. Because of the set-up, land-based access to vessels is limited only to what is available adjacent to the pier. Therefore, for incidents in marinas, marine firefighting resources are dispatched to fires involving boats in the water. There is an unavoidable time critical delay before fire boats can arrive at most fires of this nature. Until their arrival, land-based firefighting operations are carried into execution. The fire is knocked down, and if there are nearby boats exposed / threatened, firefighters undertake operations to protect them. We’re fortunate there were no boats in nearby slips.
There are good reasons firefighters wear complete personal protective equipment (PPE), and this fire demonstrated it. Firefighting operations necessitates a close approach. Just as the crews started to hit this fire with hose streams, it’s believed the vessel’s fuel cell was compromised. Before being driven back by hose streams, a large fire ball ensued which briefly engulfed several firefighters. Thanks to personal protective equipment in use and properly adorned, there were no injuries. The exposure to fire was so brief, the PPE itself was not damaged. However, with PPE not in place, burn injuries would certainly have been inflicted.
To provide a continuous supply of water for firefighting operations, water was drafted from the marina harbor using an engine from the Kennedyville VFC. The draft site was established at the marina boat launch and relayed to Engine 68 via a 5” supply line, which that engine had dropped as they passed the boat ramp.
A short time after firefighting operations had commenced, marine firefighting resources (fire boats) began to arrive. These fire boats brought their deck-mounted monitor nozzles into operation, quickly knocking down the remaining fire. Unfortunately, due to extensive fire damage and the volume of water needed to control the fire, the vessel rapidly sank in its slip.
This created another problem as diesel fuel was leaking from the damaged fuel cell and was spreading across the water. The Maryland Department of the Environment spill trailer for Kent County, stored at the Kennedyville VFC, was requested. Once it arrived, brought by Kennedyville VFC personnel, crews deployed 300 feet of harbor boom around the incident to contain the leaking fuel. Clean up of the spilled fuel will be the responsibility of a private contractor.
The Maryland State Fire Marshals Office was notified, and a representative responded. An origin & cause investigation will be difficult, as the vessel is currently under water. If possible, it will have to wait until the vessel can be raised. The investigator responded to begin the investigation by interviewing the occupants.
Because of the leaking diesel fuel, the Maryland Department of the Environment was notified.
Crews operated at this fire for three (3) hours. There were 35 firefighters at this incident. There were no injuries.
The United States Coast Guard was notified, but did not respond as they were not needed.
Photographs and video by the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company. Media may use photographs with attribution.
Additional still photographs are in a Dropbox file located here.
Companies / Agencies:
Rock Hall VFC
Kent & Queen Annes Rescue Squad
Kent County EMS
Cecilton VFC (Fire Boat)
Bowley’s Quarters VFC – Baltimore County (Fire Boat)
North Point - Edgemere VFC – Baltimore County (Fire Boat)
Cape St. Clair VFC – Anne Arundel County (Fire Boat) Responded, but canceled by incident command