Major fire at Portman Marina claims dozens of boats, one boater injured

A freak accident on Lake Hartwell in Anderson County, South Carolina has left about two dozen of boats housed at Portman Marina either damaged or destroyed.

At least 16 of those boats were severely damaged or destroyed Monday in an intense fire at the marina that started just after noon. The fire included a number of explosions as well.

One boater was burned and at least one firefighter had to be treated for heat exhaustion as crews battled the blaze for hours in temperatures that rose above 90 degrees in the afternoon.

The blaze is believed to have started on Pier 6 when a generator on one of the boats housed at the marina backfired when the owner attempted to start it. The backfire caught the boat on fire and severely burned the boater.

Between 200 and 250 firefighters battled the blaze for more than two hours before bringing it under control, said Billy McAdams, the chief of Townville fire station. More than two dozen fire stations responded to the call throughout the afternoon.

According to reports, firefighters were able to contain the fire and a majority of the damage to Pier 6, which can house about 45 boats.

Responding agencies included dozens of Upstate South Carolina fire and emergency workers. Firefighters came from Center Rock, Townville, Zion, West Pelzer, Pendleton, Sandy Springs, Centerville, Fairplay, Oconee County Rural, Homeland Park, Double Springs, Ebenezer and Friendship fire stations among others in Anderson County. Oconee County sent a fire boat and firefighters from Fair Play and other stations.

The exact number of damaged boats is not yet known and may not be final for a few days.

The owner of the boat where the fire began was taken to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta by helicopter and is believed to be in stable condition. His identity has not been disclosed.