Stories about the fire that destroyed two megayachts at a Fort Lauderdale boatyard were widely read. More than 20,000 readers followed the story on passagemaker.com alone, and many Facebook commenters speculated to the effect that the weekend inferno must have been an insurance job.
Not so, says Fort Lauderdale Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr, who told city commissioners Tuesday that investigators had determined that the blaze was not "intentionally set."
The determination was made after investigators viewed surveillance video from cameras at the Universal Marine Center, where the fire blazed for nearly five hours early Saturday morning.
The latest reporting in the Sun-Sentinel newspaper also raised the combined value of yachts Lohengrin and Reflections from the initial $20,000 estimate to $24 million, making this the greatest fire loss in Lauderdale's history.
The newspaper quoted the fire chief as saying the 161-foot Lohengrin caught fire first. “It smoldered and then it burst into flames,” she said. “And with the northwest winds, it just blew it right into the inside yacht.”
Salvors are now working to recover the sunken hulks without releasing any fuel into the waterway. The cause of the fire may never be known because of the extent of the damage.