Fire guts downtown Gig Harbor building

Staff writerJanuary 24, 2014 

Despite a Friday morning fire that destroyed the Gig Harbor Yacht Sales office and a maintenance shop for the Gig Harbor Marina and Boatyard, the marina and boatyard remain open for business.

The yacht office will reopen in a few days.

That’s the message marina owner Karen Triplett wanted shared Friday afternoon as she took a break from calls with her insurance company to talk about what her next steps would be.

The fire happened just before 1 a.m. Friday on the 3100 block of Harborview Drive, in the heart of downtown Gig Harbor.

“We were very fortunate,” Triplett said Friday afternoon from the marina office.

The fire destroyed the building, leaving a charred gaping hole in the ceiling and making it uninhabitable. But it could have been worse, she said.

For some people downtown, the fire conjured memories of the Aug. 31, 2005, blaze at the nearby Harborview Marina that destroyed about 50 boats and caused $9.3 million in damage.

“When the docks catch on fire and the boats catch on fire, that’s not fortunate,” she said. “The things that burned (Friday morning) were not irreplaceable.”

Friday’s fire started in a bathroom in the yacht sales office where a waste basket was too close to the baseboard heater, Triplett said. The Pierce County Fire Marshal’s Office conducted the investigation and determined the cause was accidental, she said.

Gig Harbor Fire and Medic One received reports of smoke coming from the center of the building at 12:38 a.m. Friday. Flames were shooting into the sky when crews arrived. No one was inside, and no injuries were reported.

Because of the proximity to other structures along the historic waterfront, additional fire agencies were called to help keep the flames from spreading. The Tacoma Fire Department, Key Peninsula Fire Department, West Pierce Fire & Rescue and South Kitsap Fire & Rescue responded.

The fire was contained in 30 minutes. The Tripletts were called around 1:20 a.m., and when they arrived everything was under control, Triplett said.

Triplett and her husband, Darrell, own the 111 slips in the Gig Harbor Marina, as well as the boatyard located between the sales office and the water. They also own other buildings downtown, including the building next door to the yacht sales office that houses Emilie’s Gallery and Boutique and the blue building that extends behind it.

Triplett took over marina operations from her father, who recently passed away. The waterfront building has been in her family since 1967, when her dad purchased it from Skansie’s Ship Building Co. The Skansie brothers built ferries and other ships at the location along the waterfront starting in 1901, Triplett said.

Gig Harbor Yacht Sales has been located downtown for 40 years.

The burned building will have to be torn down, but Triplett said they will rebuild. She has a meeting scheduled next week with an architect and will meet with city building officials to “know exactly what I can do before I make any plans.”

Gig Harbor Yacht Sales already has an office space lined up downtown and will open in the next few days, said owner and CEO Al Hayes. All of the company’s files and keys to clients’ boats were in fireproof file cabinets and are now in a secure location, he said. The company’s phone number works and is being answered.

Brynn Grimley: 253-597-8567

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