ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – More than a hundred boats went up in flames Wednesday afternoon after the Woodland Marina in the Orchard Farm area caught fire.
Firefighters responded to a three-alarm fire at the marina along the Mississippi River around 2:40 p.m. The initial call was for one boat on fire inside the boat storage facility, which quickly spread throughout the facility.
Fire Chief Jeremey Hollrah from the Orchard Farm Fire Protection District said there was about 140 boats inside the facility at the time of the fire.
One of those boats was Richard Reichert’s.
“I got a phone call from three of my friends when I was picking my kids up from school and said that the rack storage was currently burning,” Reichert said.
He stood and watched as his boat, Emily’s Express, along with 139 other boats, were up in flames.
“Being that it had my daughter’s name on there, it’s kind of sad,” Reichert said. “I told her what was going on and she immediately asked if the boat was okay, and I told her no, it was a complete loss and she cried almost the whole way out here.”
One worker was sent to the hospital with burn injuries but Chief Hollrah said the worker is expected to be okay.
The fire also destroyed two other buildings and damaged at least one other.
Joe Boarman used to work for Woodland Marina as a harbormaster for eight years. He now works in Grafton, Illinois, and saw the flames from his new job. He said as soon as he realized it was Woodland Marina, he came over to check it out.
“It’s part of my family and everything else; it’s tough,” Boarman said.
He said the rack storage room, which is where the fire broke out, can hold up to 275 boats. It wasn’t completely full at the time of the fire. Boarman said the boat rack can store 4 boats high.
Chief Hollrah said there were more than 13 water tankers on the scene of the fire. He said he hasn’t seen this big a response in years.
“We don’t get a lot of large building fires like this in areas that don’t have hydrants, occasionally in St. Louis County or in a more rural area something like this will happen, we count on our neighbors in other counties to assist us within St. Charles County, as well as St. Louis. Lincoln, Warren, Franklin, Jefferson, and even into Illinois,” he said.
More than 100 firefighters responded to the fire from six counties and a few of the firefighters were treated on the scene for dehydration.
The black smoke could be seen for more than 30 miles away.
Angela Wiseman’s home was just 100 yards away.
“My boyfriend called me, I was in Wentzville working and he said, ‘The whole marina’s on fire,'” Boarman said. She rushed home and said her home was not touched and she did not have to evacuate but called the marina fire “tragic.”
“We pray for Woodland, that they can get back on their feet,” she added.