Algoma marina fire could have been much worse
Kinn’s Sport Fishing co-owner Troy Mattson said if it wasn’t for the incredibly fast response of Algoma Fire Department personnel, last week’s blaze that took out six boats could have been much worse — even deadly.
Within a matter of eight minutes, Mattson said the fire that started on Kinn’s Katch II had spread to three other Kinn’s charter boats — Big Daddy, Obsession and Obsession II — and two private boats.
“We were one boat away from losing one of our mates, and three boats down another mate was sleeping,” Mattson said. “Them boys are really lucky to be alive.”
Mattson said it’s hard to believe how fast the fire crews were on the scene.
“It was literally minutes,” Mattson said. “From the time I got the call it was probably five minutes until I was down there, and they were already spraying, plus another truck was on the way. They did a tremendous job.”
Investigators are still sifting through the ruins of boats seeking clues on the fire’s origin, but Mattson said arson is not suspected.
“Multiple people saw the fire’s origin near the power cord on Kinn’s Katch II, but what caused it is beyond me,” said Mattson. “I’m not an electrician.”
From the DNR to the Coast Guard to the marina staff, Mattson said, all have gone out of their way above and beyond what they needed to do, offering help at every turn.
He declined to offer a dollar amount on the losses of the boats, which ranged in length from 32 to 36 feet each, saying it’s much more than dollars.
“You’re also talking lost revenue (from trips canceled),” he said. “It’s such a short season. You have about 100 days to make this work. We’ve got to get customers out, and we’ve got captains and first mates that need jobs, too.”
Kinn’s purchased a Kewaunee charter boat, renaming it Redemption. Still three shy of the 11 they had to start the season, owners Mattson and Brett Cook leased an Algoma charter and are looking at other lease offers. In addition, Mattson was going to check another boat for possible purchase Wednesday.
“These are difficult boats to replace,” he said. “A lot of them, they don’t make these types any more. They’re specially designed, and we spend a lot of hours getting them set up the way we want them.”
On the bright side, fishing has been very good this season, with only occasional slower trips.
“I can’t complain about the fishing at all,” Mattson said. “First it was cohos and steelhead, now it’s primarily kings. There are a lot more 20-pound-plus fish this year than we’ve seen in quite some time.”
Tom Kleiman of Accurate Marine in Kewaunee, president of the Wisconsin Lakeshore Business Association, said this week’s DNR public meetings offer a glimmer of hope that there are alternatives to cutting chinook salmon stocking again.
“I think it’s a big deal that I’m getting calls from Michigan and Indiana,” Kleiman said. “It’s not just charter captains and businesses in Wisconsin frustrated with these recommendations. We’re not the only group coming out against this.”
Kleiman attended the first of three meetings Monday at Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, and said that during the breakout sessions it appeared that a majority of people — he estimated the crowd at between 70 and 100 — overwhelmingly agreed with the WLBA positions.
Among other things, the group is asking Gov. Walker and DNR Secretary Stepp to reject a Lake Michigan Committee proposal and recommend that salmon stocking levels remain stable, rainbow and brown trout stockings be increased, the daily bag limit for lake trout be raised from two to five and Atlantic salmon and other species be stocked.
Many anglers say they’d rather have the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scale back its lake trout stocking program than endure another large cut of chinooks, the favorite big lake target.
If the weather cooperates, the Fourth of July weekend can be one of the busiest on Green Bay and Lake Michigan.
DNR boating safety specialists say boating sober is critical to your safety, and the safety of others. The use of life jackets is also recommended. Learn more at http://www.safeboatingcampaign.com/life-jackets/.
Kevin Naze is a freelance outdoors writer. Email him at [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Algoma marina fire could have been much worse