Fishing boats, buildings destroyed near Naknek

Posted: Monday, June 18, 2001

DILLINGHAM (AP) -- A fish camp where commercial fishermen in the Bristol Bay area stored and repaired their boats and took their meals was destroyed by fire early Saturday.

No one was injured in the blaze at the site on the Naknek River, but lost boats alone were valued at more than $3 million, officials said.

The camp, known as Warren Camp, was located about two miles from South Naknek and was operated by Peter Pan Seafoods, said Ted Mildon, production manager at the company's Dillingham plant. It was built as a cannery at the turn of the century.

Several warehouse buildings that held boats and fishing gear were burned down, along with a repair shop. Up to 30 boats were destroyed. Two of the boats that burned were tied up at the dock.

The fire comes just as fishermen are getting ready to put their boats in the water. The sockeye season began last week at Naknek.

It's not yet known what caused the blaze, which broke out at about midnight. Mildon said strong winds fanned the flames.

Only one fisherman storing a boat at the camp lives in Alaska. The rest are from Oregon, Washington and California.

Charlie Groat lives about a mile from the camp. His $250,000 boat was insured by Peter Pan for $75,000.

''I have another boat I've got to start working on and get it going, I guess,'' he said.

Jim Hogan of Clatskanie, Ore., got the call at 5:30 a.m. He was told the fire was melting his fiberglass gillnet boat. Hogan had planned to fly to Bristol Bay for the summer salmon season, but that plan disappeared with the boat.

''I don't know if I'll ever go back to the bay,'' he said.

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