TD Marina fire cleanup

A barge-mounted crane armed with a “clamshell bucket” pulls debris from the floor of The Dalles Marina. Crews were busy last week cleaning up the wreckage, with divers surveying the marina floor after each section of visible above-water debris was removed to identify . The debris will be taken to a hazardous waste site near Vancouver.

THE DALLES — Cleanup of all remaining fire debris is underway at The Dalles Marina, with cleanup, recovery and disposal operations overseen by Northwest Maritime Consultants (NMC) under contract with the Port of The Dalles, which owns the boat basin. The entire “D finger” dock at the west end of the boat basin will be removed.

Andrea Klaas, Port of The Dalles executive director, noted that although the docks appear to be serviceable, the heat of the fire was so intense it compromised the integrity of the docks, which are comprised of concrete decks and wooden railings floated on foam. “People told me they could feel the heat of the fire driving by on the highway,” Klaas said, pointing out that the fire had melted the plastic caps on top of the steel poles anchoring the dock.

Now that work has started, cleanup should only take about a week, Klaas said. She said the delay in cleanup — the fire occurred around midnight July 3 — reflected the complexity of the cleanup project. She noted that the port owned the docks and the boat basin, but not the boats or boat houses. At least 11 property owners, and their insurance agencies, were involved in arranging for the cleanup. “Each boat house was privately owned, as were the boats,” she said.

Most but not all of the docks, owned by the port, were insured.

Final cost of the cleanup will not be known until the work has been completed, Klaas said.

Robert Mester of NMC noted that it was impossible to say for sure what work needs to be done to clean the site. “We know what was above the water, but we don’t know what is below,” he explained.

A barge and tug combination with a 100-ton crane will be used to load debris into a large debris barge, the contents of which will be disposed of as hazardous waste, said Mester. The crane is equipped with a “clam shovel,” which will be used to lift and remove the above-water material. That debris includes the remaining portions of the “D finger” dock at the west (downstream) end of the marina as well as the remains of several boat houses.

When the visible above-water debris has been removed, a dive team with lights and cameras will perform an underwater survey of the floor of the basin beneath the fire. Underwater debris will then be removed individually, using the crane and cables, or lifted out with the clam bucket.

There will be no “salvage,” Mester noted, the “recovery” portion of the cleanup focused on recovering material for disposal. “It will all be going for disposal in Vancouver as hazardous waste,” he explained. Throughout the operation, a multi-level boom will be used to contain floating material broken loose during the removal process. “We contain the area in case of something unexpected” as well, he said.

Klaas said no decision has been made regarding replacing the burned dock. New docks will cost about $175 per square foot. “There’s a lot of information to be considered before a decision on replacement is made,” Klaas said.

Immediately following the fire, a contracted environmental clean-up company was hired by the port. The port and the environmental clean-up company coordinated salvage operations of some of the sunken boats.

The estimated direct monetary loss from the fire was estimated to be more than $2 million, according to estimates made shortly after the fire.

According to Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue, the cause of the fire could not be attributed to any definitive source of ignition. The area of origin was determined to be located in the area of or between units D3 and D5 of the D-Finger.

No firefighters were injured in battling the blaze but at least one citizen sustained minor burns while rescuing two couples trapped by the fire and removing boats that were in harm’s way.