Shelter Bay Marina fire and spill

(Information on this site is considered to be accurate at the time of posting, but is subject to change as new information becomes available.)

The Washington Department of Ecology, U.S. Coast Guard, and multiple local fire departments responded to a fire involving nearly a dozen boats Friday evening at Shelter Bay Marina in La Conner.

Summary information

Date of incident:  February 21, 2014

Shelter Bay Marina, La Conner, WA

Type of incident: Diesel oil
Cause of incident: Under investigation
Responsible party: Unknown

Status updates

March 6, 2014


Today Unified Command (Ecology, Coast Guard and Shelter Bay representatives) met with Global Diving and Salvage. After meeting, the Unified Command made the decision to remove the containment boom and sorbents along the shoreline and shrink the containment site to only around J dock where the marina fire occurred nearly two weeks ago. The boom surrounding the dock will remain in place until the fire investigators complete their investigation. Minor sheen remains on the water in only a few small areas.


March 3, 2014


Over the weekend crews maintained boom and cleaned the shoreline. Today they are working to open the dock adjacent to the one that caught fire. The boom containing the damaged dock and shoreline will remain in place until the sheen is gone. Thursday, Ecology will meet with the Coast Guard and marine representatives to determine next steps, and if the boom can be reduced further.


February 28, 2014


As of Friday, all sunken vessels and large debris have been removed from the site at Shelter Bay Marina to an offsite yard in Anacortes. This afternoon crews are removing the outermost boom between the marina basin and the Swinomish channel, which drastically reduces the size of the cleanup area.


On-water oil recovery efforts are on-going and will continue throughout the weekend. Oil sheens are being contained within multiple layers of containment and sorbent booms. No recoverable oil is being noted. Divers have removed an estimated 10,000 pounds of oily debris and oiled sorbents, and 600 gallons of diesel fuel was pumped off one vessel that was badly damaged, but did not sink.


To date, no worker injuries or impacted wildlife have been reported.


Next week crews will focus on cleanup of the neighboring docks and associated vessels and shorelines.


February 26, 2014


Divers working at the scene are assessing the marina bottom for any other debris left from the burned boats and placing it on a barge for removal. The next steps for the cleanup include repairing/replacing/removing portions of the wooden dock, collecting all oil/product and shrinking the footprint of the incident to the dock at the site of the fire. Shoreline cleanup will likely occur toward the end of the week, when crews flush the area with clean water. The entire cleanup is anticipated to last another week and Ecology anticipates being done with its on-site work by Friday.


February 25, 2014


Crews working to clean the site at the Shelter Bay Marina raised the last two of six sunken vessels today. A seventh vessel that was damaged, but didn’t sink, was pumped of its 600 gallons of diesel fuel and will also be placed on a barge and hauled to a ship yard. Recovery efforts will continue, focusing on debris pickup and cleaning the oiled wooden pier and nearby vegetation.


February 24, 2014


Teams raised two more sunken vessels from Shelter Bay Marina today, bringing the total to four. The recovered vessels are being barged to a shipyard and being placed in a chain of custody where the Swinomish Police Department, Skagit County Fire Department, Coast Guard and insurance companies will conduct investigations.


Two more vessels remain in the bay and are expected to be raised tomorrow and possibly Wednesday. Once the boats are removed environmental work will continue to clean the wooden dock and nearby vegetation as well as remove remaining debris from the water.


At this time no wildlife impacts have been reported and all of the recoverable oil is contained.


February 23, 2014


Cleanup crews made more progress Sunday recovering oil from Shelter Bay. The oil is being removed by hand with sorbents, which is a slower process than using skimmers. The skimmers have not been effective in Shelter Bay due to fire debris on the water. But all recoverable fuel is still being contained with boom. A small crew will stay overnight to maintain the boom and secure the scene.


Efforts to remove the four remaining vessels from the water also continued. However, the extent of fire damage to the vessels complicated salvage operations, and no additional boats were raised on Sunday. Two vessels were raised and removed on Saturday. Recovery operations will begin again on Monday morning.


February 22, 2014


Two sunken vessels have been successfully removed from the water and placed on a barge as of Saturday evening. Four remaining vessels will be salvaged over the next few days. Salvage operations are suspended for the night, but will begin again Sunday morning.


Calm weather is helping Global Diving and Salvage make good progress recovering fuel from the water using absorbent boom, sweep and pads. Up to three levels of boom is still in place around the bay. Some patches of unrecoverable sheen have been observed outside the boom, but all recoverable fuel appears to be contained. No damage to wildlife has been seen in the area. Oil recovery will continue throughout the evening hours.


Ecology will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.


February 22, 2014


The Washington Department of Ecology, U.S. Coast Guard, and other agencies are continuing to monitor cleanup at Shelter Bay Marina after a fire early Friday evening that caused six boats to sink and damaged others, many of them filled with diesel fuel.


An undetermined amount of fuel has been released to the water. Three layers of oil containment boom and absorbent have been deployed to reduce the spread of pollution. A skimmer is also working to remove the oil. The extent of any environmental damage is still being determined, but most of the leaked fuel appears to be contained. The marina is working with boat owners to determine how much fuel is on each boat.


Global Diving and Salvage has been hired by the Coast Guard to recover as much spilled fuel as possible. A separate contractor will be using a crane barge to remove the damaged vessels from the water. Ecology is working with the Coast Guard and the contractors to monitor the cleanup. Cleanup and salvage operations are expected to continue for several days.


The Swinomish Police Department and Skagit County Fire Department are conducting a joint investigation into the cause of the fire.


February 21, 2014


The Washington Department of Ecology, U.S. Coast Guard and multiple local fire departments responded to a fire involving nearly a dozen boats Friday evening at Shelter Bay Marina, including six that sank. The fire has been extinguished and oil containment boom has been placed around the area of the fire to prevent the spread of pollution.


The boom was provided by Ecology through a 2007 equipment grant and was strategically located in the event of a spill. The extent of any environmental damage is unknown. Multiple contractors have been hired by the Coast Guard and the marina to address environmental concerns as well as the salvage of the vessels. Ecology is working with the Coast Guard and the contractors to monitor the cleanup.

Media contact

Ty Keltner, Media contact,, 360-407-6990