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Historic Argosy tour boat catches fire at Kirkland's Marina Park

Guests wait in line to check-in on board the Argosy MV Kirkland during the Kirkland Downtown Association’s Annual Fall Ball and Flowerpot Fundraiser on Oct. 11, 2008. - Katherine Ganter / File Photo
Guests wait in line to check-in on board the Argosy MV Kirkland during the Kirkland Downtown Association’s Annual Fall Ball and Flowerpot Fundraiser on Oct. 11, 2008.
— image credit: Katherine Ganter / File Photo

The historic Argosy tour boat M.V. Kirkland that has become a fixture at Kirkland’s Marina Park, caught fire while docked early Saturday morning. No one was injured during the fire, but officials said that early estimates put the damage to the vessel at $60,000.

"The fire started in the engine room on the lower deck...," said Argosy spokesperson Maureen Black, who added that Argosy has not had a boat fire in 61 years of business.

The Kirkland Fire Department (KFD) has determined that the fire was started by faulty wiring in the mechanical room.

The KFD received the call at around 6:50 a.m. as witnesses told the dispatcher that smoke was coming from the 108-foot tour boat.

Nearly 50 firefighters and 17 units from Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, the King County Sheriff's Marine Unit and the Seattle Police Department responded to the call.

Firefighters had to break a sliding-glass door to enter the engine room, which was completely dark from the smoke, said Kirkland Fire Marshal Grace Steuart.

"Firefighters used the dock standpipe to supply water for suppression efforts, which were hampered by difficulty of working in the cramped engine room as well as poor visibility from the smoke," said Steuart. "After ventilating the engine room and knocking down the fire, firefighters then spent a significant amount of time putting out spot fires, which had spread throughout small spaces and pockets inside and surrounding the engine room."

The majority of the fire was put out within a half hour. There was no damage to the dock and no fuel or oil leaks.

As a precautionary measure, a representative of the Washington State Department of Ecology Spill Response Section also responded, said Steuart.

The boat was built in 1924 and refurbished by Argosy in 1996 for the Kirkland run and is used for tours of Lake Washington, wedding receptions and similar functions.

It was placed on the Washington Heritage Register in 1997 and has a long history, including being used by the military during World War II as a ferryboat at the mouth of the Columbia River and on the Anderson Island and Steilacoom run.

Black said that Argosy does not know how long that run will be out of commission.

"Our intention is to use another boat from our fleet," said Black.

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