Kachemak Emergency Services firefighters on Friday afternoon, Feb. 14, 2020, clean up a structure fire on Kent Street near Mile 6.5 East End Road east of Homer, Alaska. A fire in a boat shop that started about 3:25 a.m. Feb. 14 totally destroyed the building. (Photo courtesy Kachemak Emergency Services)

Kachemak Emergency Services firefighters on Friday afternoon, Feb. 14, 2020, clean up a structure fire on Kent Street near Mile 6.5 East End Road east of Homer, Alaska. A fire in a boat shop that started about 3:25 a.m. Feb. 14 totally destroyed the building. (Photo courtesy Kachemak Emergency Services)

Fire destroys East End Road boat shop

“The fire was blowing out the roof in the back of the building.”

An early morning fire on Valentine’s Day completely destroyed a commercial boat shop near Mile 6.6 East End Road in Homer. Fiberglass resin and other flammable material made it difficult for firefighters to attack, and smoke from the fire cast a pungent odor like burning plastic over downtown Homer.

Kachemak Emergency Services firefighters first responded after the fire was paged out at 3:23 a.m. Feb. 14. KES Chief Bob Cicciarrella said when the first crews arrived at the building on Kent Street off East End Road, they found the fire heavily involved in half of the four-bay steel shop.

“The fire was blowing out the roof in the back of the building,” he said. “We were kind of behind the 8 ball from the get go.”

The person who called in the fire reported hearing explosions, and firefighters found debris from explosions at the scene. No other structures or homes in the area were threatened. Except for minor injuries to firefighters slipping on ice, no one suffered major injuries.

Homer Volunteer Fire Department and the Anchor Point Emergency Services also helped KES in the response.

“It was a long night. It was a tough fire to fight,” Cicciarrella said. “… We had resin and acetone rolls. It was tough — a lot of heat. Where it started, there was a lot of heat in that first bay.”

Firefighters had trouble with a water supply and had to run tanker shuttles from hydrants at Kachemak Drive and East End Road. Cold temperatures also caused icing at hose hook-ups as well as from water at the fire scene. Cicciarrella said Department of Transportation and Public Facilities crews helped out by throwing sand on the roads in the area.

Boats were being worked on in each of the bays and all were totally destroyed. Cicciarrella said all that remains is the steel structure, but that is very weak.

“We taped off the whole area with danger tape and fireline tape,” he said. “… Because of the amount of heat that was in there, it’s definitely weakened.”

Ice on the lot by the fire also made it hard to fight.

“That was tough for firefighters to get up the incline to fight the fire,” he said. “They’re slipping on the ice and falling.”

Some firefighters had bruises and minor injuries from falls, but no one had to be taken to the hospital, Cicciarrella said.

According to Kenai Peninsula Borough tax records, the building was built in 2018 and is assessed at $195,000.

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.

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