Suspicious early-morning blaze destroys seven boats

Jul 22, 2021 | Lake Arrowhead

Damage estimate set at $2 million

By Douglas W. Motley
Senior Writer

An early morning fire of unknown origin, first reported at 4:06 a.m. on Friday, July 16, completely destroyed seven boats, damaged five others and damaged North Shore Multiple Dock 4 (NSM4). The dock is located just north of Peninsula Park at the bottom of Trail Access 63.

Callers to 911 reported smoke and flames emanating from the boats.

According to County Fire Battalion Chief Mike McClintock, firefighters were dispatched shortly afterward. Crews found several boats well involved with flames and the dock under immediate threat. “Several boats ended up floating freely while on fire because the flames had burned through their dock lines,” McClintock said, adding that firefighters corralled the free-floating boats before they could cause more damage. “Using Fire Boat 92’s pumps and water from the lake, the fire was out in about 20 minutes,” he added.

The county’s Haz-Mat crews were called out due to potential fluids and other hazards that may have leaked into the lake during the fire. In addition, the Arrowhead Lake Association (ALA) was notified, McClintock said, because they manage lake operations and the docks. Haz-Mat personnel will continue to support ALA in their cleanup efforts.

ALA members were notified of the fire in a special update sent out by email on Friday afternoon. “ALA’s Lake Safety team has placed an oil boom around the area to contain whatever gasoline or oil is in the water,” the update read. “Fortunately, not much was spilled. However, the water is being tested to ensure it is safe and we have closed Peninsula Beach until we receive the test results.”

ALA General Manager Bob Mattison told The Alpine Mountaineer that all of the damaged boats were removed from the water and are being stored in an area on Torrey Road near MacKay Park. Operable boats, he said, were taken to the Liberty Dock on the west side of Lake Arrowhead Village.

“Most importantly,” Mattison said, “nobody was hurt. My heart goes out to those who suffered a loss from this incident.”

ALA’s Member Services was contacting the slip owners of NSM4.

When all was said and done, seven boats were destroyed and five more damaged. Mattison said crews remained on scene all day to work on overhaul, salvage and investigation.

In an update issued on July 17, County Fire said that investigators found boats that were the victim of theft and vandalism nearby. Those boat owners not affected by the fire but who suffered vandalism or theft should contact the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Station at (909) 336-0600.

Investigators worked with local boat owners and the ALA to complete a damage and loss assessment. The loss estimate is currently set at $2 million.

Firefighters were able to save more than 30 boats and multiple docks from fire damage.

Both the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and San Bernardino County Fire are investigating the incident to determine the cause of the fire. Anyone with information on this fire is asked to contact the fire investigation unit at (909) 336-8400.

Editor Mary-Justine Lanyon contributed to this article.



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