Boats at Whitman Hollow Dock burn in blaze

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By Susan Sharp

A morning marina fire has caused nearly $100,000 in damages.


But it could have been worse, according to Chuck Samples, owner of Whitman Hollow Marina in LaFollette.

When crews responded to the fire on Saturday morning they found multiple boats on fire, said Campbell County Rural Fire Service Chief Daniel Lawson. They immediately “deployed hand lines” in an attempt to fight the blaze. But after a quick evaluation of the scene, Lawson said he asked for assistance from the LaFollette and Caryville Fire Departments. After those two departments arrived, water was pumped from the lake to extinguish the blaze.

“The whole place could have went under if they hadn’t got there as soon as they did,” said Campbell County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Brandon Elkins of the fire crews’ response.

Workings to disconnect boats from their slips, fire crews were able to save additional boats.

“That helped greatly,” Lawson of work done to salvage the boats.

Yet despite the efforts of the CCRFS, Samples estimates nine boats were destroyed. Samples said those owners were contacted immediately. The majority of the burned boats sank to the bottom of the lake, Elkins said.

Aside from the boats being damaged, Samples said the dock had sustained damage. The first area of slips has about 30 percent damage. The metal roof on the marina also buckled from the heat.

Had crews not been able to contain the blaze Samples said the damage could have been worse. The fire was making its way towards the second section of the dock, which is a completely wood structure, Samples said.

However, it still sustained smoke damage.

The rafters has a black coating of smoke and oil, Elkins said.

“This is an ongoing investigation. We expect input from various agencies in this case and hope to see a quick resolution,” said Campbell County Sheriff Robbie Goins.

Insurance adjusters and investigators will be at Whitman Hollow Dock this week.

The marina was closed for the off-season but Samples believes the dock will be operational by April 1.