The commercial fishing vessel Della G, seen here the next morning, caught fire and was completely destroyed in the Gastineau Channel on Tuesday, July 13, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard / Petty Officer 2nd Class Steven Knight)

The commercial fishing vessel Della G, seen here the next morning, caught fire and was completely destroyed in the Gastineau Channel on Tuesday, July 13, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard / Petty Officer 2nd Class Steven Knight)

Adrift and ablaze: emergency services respond to late-night boat fire

Authorities are investigating the cause of a fire that torched the 32-foot vessel.

Capital City Fire/Rescue responded to a report of a fire near the end of the runway at Juneau International Airport close to midnight Tuesday.

The source of the fire turned out to be 32-foot fishing vessel Bella G aflame in the Gastineau Channel, said Assistant Fire Chief Ed Quinto in a phone interview.

Initially unable to get through the wetlands to the fire from the airport side, Juneau Police Department officers were eventually able to get close by hiking in from North Douglas Highway, said Lt. Krag Campbell in a phone interview.

CCFR does not have a fire boat for marine incidents, CCFR said in the social media post.

No one was aboard the vessel at the time, said Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Stephen T. Mueller in a news release.

Officers didn’t come into contact with anyone in the immediate area, Campbell said, and their continued effectiveness operating in the wetlands in the dark as the tide was rising was somewhat limited.

Smoke rises from the Gastineau Channel near the Mendenhall Wetlands the morning after Capital City Fire/Rescue responded to a report of a burning boat in the channel on July 13, 2021. The cause is under investigation. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Smoke rises from the Gastineau Channel near the Mendenhall Wetlands the morning after Capital City Fire/Rescue responded to a report of a burning boat in the channel on July 13, 2021. The cause is under investigation. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

The vessel was totalled, according to a CCFR social media post, though it is insured.

CCFR resumed the investigation during the daylight, when the fire marshal worked with Coast Guard District 17 personnel, the vessel’s owner and a salvage company to safely remove the hulk for a full investigation into the fire as well as for pollution mitigation.

“The vessel owner has been identified and stated that there was approximately 200 gallons of diesel fuel and a small amount of other pollutants on board when the vessel caught fire,” Mueller said. “The owner has arranged for a marine salvage and spill response contractor to mitigate environmental impacts.”

There was light sheening near the vessel on Wednesday, Mueller said.

“The owner has been very proactive to mitigate environmental impacts by hiring a marine salvage and oil response contractor” said Lt. Jon Dillard, of the Sector Juneau Incident Management Division, in the release. “Our priority here is to mitigate any pollution threats to the sensitive maritime environment in a timely, safe and effective manner.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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