Breaking News – Whittier’s Delong Dock Fire
News of the Delong Dock fire in Whittier continues to develop as Glacier City Gazette goes to press. Look for future developments in the July 24 GCG.
On July 8, The City of Whittier issued the following press release.
Barge Explosion and Subsequent Fire in Whittier, Alaska
At approximately 11:40 AM, on July 7, 2019, the vessel “Alaganik” caused a subsequent fire that spread to Whittier’s Delong Dock and three boom trucks on the dock. The cause of the explosion and fire remains under investigation and the damage is being assessed. The Alaganik sunk due to its damage and two people are unaccounted for. Whittier Volunteer Fire Department was on the scene within ten minutes of the incident with the Anton Anderson Fire Response Team and the Girdwood Fire Department joining them within 40 minutes. The US Coast Guard arrived at 4:45 AM and the state fire marshal is en route and expected to arrive later this morning. The Coast Guard has enacted a 100-yard safety zone around the area adjacent to the Delong Dock.
The US Coast Guard is also conducting an active search and rescue mission.
The Delong Dock is closed until the damage is assessed and the investigation is complete.
Later on July 8, the U.S. Coast Guard issued a press release giving an updated account of the situation with new information.
Coast Guard crews are searching for one person missing after an explosion and subsequent fire at Delong Dock in Whittier, Alaska, Monday.
An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak, forward deployed to Cordova, searched by air while crews aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Chandeleur and Coast Guard Auxiliary 336 continue to search for the missing person.
Shortly after midnight, Coast Guard Sector Anchorage watchstanders heard the phrase “Whittier fire, Whittier fire” over VHF Channel 16 and contacted Whittier dispatchers, who confirmed there was a fire at Delong Dock. Several minutes later, an Alaska Railroad security officer also reported the situation.
The explosion reportedly occurred on a fixed barge, and the fire spread to the pier and then to the Alaganik, a 99-foot commercial fishing vessel that was initially reported to have two people aboard at the time of the explosion. Whittier Police Department personnel have since confirmed one of those two is safely aboard a different vessel en route to Whittier.
Sector watchstanders issued a Safety Marine Information Broadcast that established a 100 yard safety zone to keep vessels a safe distance from the fire while the crew of the Chandeleur launched in response to help maintain the safety zone and conduct a search.
By 2:50 a.m., Whittier Fire Department personnel confirmed the fire extinguished.
The fishing vessel and barge sank in 85 feet of water at the pier with a potential maximum of 5,500 gallons of fuel oil aboard. The fishing vessel owners have contracted Global Diving and Salvage for clean-up and salvage efforts.
Brian Hicks, Whittier Fire Department chief and the on-scene commander, confirmed personnel from Whittier Fire Department, Whittier Police Department, Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel Fire Department and Girdwood Fire Department all involved in the response, including crews aboard Tender 41 and Tender 42 from Girdwood.