A three-alarm fire destroyed a shrimp boat on the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks on Tuesday night while thousands of gallons of diesel fuel from the craft spilled into the Anclote River, officials said.
The fire started about 7:40 p.m. on the 85-foot
There were no reported injuries, and the cause of the fire was still under investigation.
“All I could say, it had to be an act of God,” said Billy Harris, a longtime shrimper in the area who owns the boat with his wife, Sue.
Billy Harris and his family were at the docks, at 1000 Roosevelt Blvd., along with a number of people as they watched firefighters battle the blaze.
He said he was doing maintenance on the boat 2-5 p.m. Tuesday. There were no power, no generator and no engine running, he said.
The boat was docked near the fuel pumps on the west end of the dock. On Monday morning, Harris said he loaded the boat with about 5,000 gallons of fuel, about $18,000 worth, he said.
“I’ve been here a long time,” Harris said. “Other than the ‘no name storm.’ this is probably one of the worse fires that I’ve seen in Tarpon Springs.”
Crews must still work to contain the fuel, which could affect other boats and other locations on the dock, officials said.
The boat has partially sank and was blocking some boat traffic.
Joe Reis, stepson of owner Billy Harris, said he’s concerned for his family, other boat owners and the environment.
“You also have to think about everybody else’s livelihood on the river,” Reis said. “You have diesel fuel spilling in the river that is burning. That could burn a number of boats that are not theirs. That would basically fall on their shoulders to repair this.”
Billy Harris told News Channel 8 the boat was not insured and he's not sure if he will be able to stay in business. Firefighters said the craft was total loss.
Units fighting the blaze included the Tarpon Springs Fire Department, Clearwater Fire Department, Largo Fire Department and the U.S. Coast Guard.