SOMERS POINT — The fire inside the boat rack building at Waterfront Marine at the base of the Route 52 causeway Wednesday could have been much worse, Fire Chief Michael Sweeney said.

Had the boats there caught fire, the melting fiberglass would have created hazardous conditions, Sweeney said.

When the call came into the Fire Department at 5:34 p.m. of smoke inside the building on Goll Avenue near the bay, Sweeney called for fire crews from Scullville, Bargaintown, Ocean City and Linwood to assist and for Cardiff to provide coverage for the fire companies at the scene. The Marmora Volunteer Fire Company did both.

Sweeney and other firefighters arrived within minutes. A large industrial forklift was on fire inside the building, he said.

“I saw heavy black smoke coming out of the rear. The doors are down, but it’s pushing out of the rear of the building, and smoke (was) coming out of the side of the garage doors,” said Sweeney, who added there was zero visibility inside the building when he arrived. “One hose team stretched a line inside the side door, and the second crew went to the rear and used power saws to cut through the rolled-up (garage) door, and they stretched a line in through the back.”

Firefighters took about 10 minutes to extinguish the forklift fire and ventilate the building, Sweeney said.

An Atlantic County Emergency Services Hazmat team kept water runoff — and the mixture of leaking oil from the forklift and water from the sprinkler system — from entering the bay, Sweeney said.

By 8:14 p.m., only Somers Point firefighters were left.

Had the boats themselves caught fire, firefighters could have been on the scene until Thursday morning, Sweeney said.

No one was injured in the fire, officials said.

Staff Writer

Twenty years as a staff writer in the features department, specializing in entertainment and the arts at The Press of Atlantic City.

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