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Maintenance Mishap Guts $24M Yacht

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

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Officials are still searching for the cause of a spectacular blaze that destroyed a $24 million yacht in a California shipyard last week.

M/V Polar Bear was in drydock about 9:20 a.m. Thursday (June 19) at Marine Group Boat Works on San Diego Bay when the fire broke out.

The family-owned shipyard in Chula Vista advertises complete shipbuilding, maintenance and repair services, including painting, for government and commercial ships and private yachts and superyachts.

Video, images unless indicated: Kurt Roll via YouTube

A camera-equipped drone operated by Captain Kurt Roll caught the fiery destruction of the Polar Bear on Thursday.

The company provided little information on its Facebook page, saying: "We know it sounds quite official, but I hope you'll understand our focus was to make sure everyone was safe (check) and to provide as much accurate information as possible while respecting the owners, the work that the fire and police department do so well and all other parties involved."

Marine Group Boat Works declined Monday (June 23) to comment further.

Workers Evacuated

About 100 workers were evacuated from the scene as precaution. One or two workers (reports varied) were treated for minor smoke inhalation, but no other injuries were reported.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, but a welding mishap is suspected. Some workers told the local NBC News affiliate that they were doing some welding work before the blaze. The vessel carried a great deal of fuel, and responders were wary of the potential for explosion, officials said.
Polar Bear fire

Police turned high-powered rifles on the vessel's windows, so firefighters could get water to the interior.

NBC reported that firefighters "doused the 100-foot-plus yacht with water from all directions, but with little success because a yacht is designed to keep out water."

Eventually, NBC said, "Police opened fire on the boat with high-powered rifles to blow out the windows so the water could be more effective."

No nearby vessels were damaged, officials said.

'My Toy'
A local ship captain, Kurt Roll, noticed the smoke shortly after the fire erupted. He headed toward the scene, then dispatched his his GoPro-equipped drone, a DJI Phantom quadcopter, over the blaze, he told Mashable.
Larry Jodsaas M/V Polar Bear fire
Normandale Community College (left); Kurt Roll via YouTube (right)

Yacht owner Larry Jodsaas dropped out of high school at 15. Later, he completed his education and became an entrepreneur in the semi-conductor industry.  He told media outlets that he was "devastated" by the loss of the yacht, which took five years to build.

The three-year-old vessel is owned by Larry Jodsaas, a Minnesota electrical engineer, entrepreneur and self-made millionaire in the semi-conductor industry.

Jodsaas, 79, told media outlets that the yacht, with 3,000 interior square feet, had taken five years to build. “It was my toy, my wonderful, beautiful piece of equipment," he told NBC. "I think it’s the most beautiful boat that ever has been built.”

Jodsaas says he will demand answers "why somebody who was doing their job obviously did not get it done."



Tagged categories: Fire; Maintenance programs; Marine; Shipyards

Comment from Gary Burke, (6/25/2014, 8:26 AM)

why would welding be done on a yacht full of fuel??? Could the welding be done on the outside - item being welded removed? Why wasn't there fire extinguishers very close by the welding area?? Hope he had good insurance!!!

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