Marina warehouse destroyed, boats explode in fire

TONAWANDA ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) – Investigators are searching for the cause of a fire on Tonawanda Island that broke out early Monday morning that sent one firefighter to the hospital.

Crews battled the flames at the scene of the fire since before 3 a.m. The fire leveled a large warehouse building and firefighters had to continue to extinguish hot spots for hours in the rubble.

Flames shot high into the air and heavy smoke billowed from the two-story Shore Waterfront Marina and Restaurant complex. Some residents in the area were evacuated.

“It was intense. It was wind-driven so that didn’t help things either,” said North Tonawanda Fire Chief John Lapham.

The island lost power during the blaze which complicated the firefighters’ efforts because the pump station was out of service.

The restaurant was not damaged by the fire but the Marina service building is a total loss. The warehouse was primarily used for boat repair and supplies, but some boats and fuel were also stored on site.

Some boats that were stored inside the building exploded in the fire. Approximately a dozen boats inside and outside the warehouse were destroyed.

Throughout the morning, people stopped by across the water to see the fire and what was left of the Marina building.

Lois Wesolowski didn’t want to speak on camera but told News 4 she was relieved to learn that her boat survived the fire. She was just at the Marina on Saturday for a party to kick off the boating season.

One firefighter from the City of Tonawanda was taken to DeGraff Memorial Hospital with minor leg injuries. He was treated and released. Mike Charnock, president of the Marina business, told News 4 that will rebuild when he can. He says the property is insured.

There is no information yet on what may have started the fire.

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