Fire Marshal Confirms Keystone Lake Dock Fire Started On Houseboat

Monday, March 28th 2016, 2:30 pm
By: Tess Maune

The state fire marshal said an electrical short on a house boat is likely what caused a huge fire at Pier 51 on Keystone Lake.

Investigators say we may never know exactly what caused it because the eight boats are so badly burned or at the bottom of the lake.

Hours after flames first erupted Sunday, boats were still smoldering Monday afternoon; and what happened at Pier 51 was still sinking in for those who lost their boats.

3/28/2016 Related Story: Fire Destroys Boats At Keystone Lake Pier 51 Marina

As flames spread from one boat to the next, Pier 51 crews were in boats of their own, using the motor to spray lake water on the flames to keep them from spreading.

Service manager Sean Adair used his cell phone to record the fire that looked like a scene from a movie.

The fire destroyed eight boats, including Jimmie Ellyson's 40-foot pontoon houseboat - the boat he was looking forward to spending more time on after retiring this week.

“Sad, just mainly sad,” Ellyson said. “We just bought it 14 months ago. We put several thousand dollars in it, getting it the way we wanted it, starting to have fun with it.”

Ellyson's boat is now scorched. Ashes and debris from it and the other boats floated around the marina.

Restoration crews used leaf blowers to push what was left to shore where it was scooped out of the water and collected.

Experts say there shouldn't be any kind of harmful environmental impact.

And while the Ellyson's boat was lost, the lifetime of memories it gave him were not.

“Hundreds of hours of being a family, working on it together,” Ellyson said.

There were some people on the dock who had to be rescued by boat; they weren't hurt.

The fire marshal said he believes the fire started on a vacant house boat.