Saturday, December 28, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Marina Roof Collapses, Sinks 45 Boats

Seattle Times Staff Reporters

Piles of snow and ice caused the Port Orchard Marina roof to collapse yesterday, submerging as many as 45 moored pleasure boats and endangering an additional 155 vessels docked there.

The aluminum roof couldn't hold the weight of ice and snow.

"This is certainly unusual," said Coast Guard Lt. Tom Millar. "Boats do sink on occasion when they're docked, but to have so many go down at once is an anomaly."

The public marina houses about 200 boats and is owned by the Port of Bremerton. Nine of the vessels sank about 5:30 a.m. when the west side of the roof collapsed, said Port Orchard Commissioner Mary Ann Huntington.

Midafternoon, 30 or so more vessels sank when a separate section of the roof gave way. Onlookers couldn't see any sign of the sunken boats.

"People have been coming to the marina all day to find out if their boats are OK," Huntington said. "There's a lot of sadness right now. Their boats are their dreams."

Port Orchard Fire Chief Jay Snow said Navy and Coast Guard crews were trying to reduce the snow load most of the day, blasting it with water cannons and spraying salt water under the snow layer in the hopes of melting the ice to make the snow slide off.

"We had that freezing rain on top of that snow. The snow lid was just so heavy it began to push down, and the roofs separated," Snow said.

"The roof just pushed the floats down to where the roof line was resting on top of the boats," he said. "There was so much snow load, the piers couldn't hold it. Periodically, the load gets so heavy a boat will just sink."

Port officials say most boats have not yet been moved because the owners are not aware of the roof collapse.

The Port of Bremerton was bringing in an environmental group late yesterday to talk about how to salvage the boats, but officials estimated the vessels would remain underwater through the weekend.

One concern from the sunken vessels is diesel and oil spillage in the water, the Coast Guard's Millar said. The Navy is supplying booms to hold the oil in one spot and skimmers to collect the pollutants.

Most of the vessels were about 30 feet long.

"If we get more snow, we'll probably lose more," Port Orchard Fire Chief Snow said. "Until we can get out there and assess building damage and find out how many boats were affected, we don't have a damage estimate. It's significant, though."

"There were some fairly nice boats. There will be substantial dollar loss," the fire chief said.

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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