15 boats catch fire in Seneca

January 12, 2012 2:19:13 PM PST
Investigators in LaSalle County are trying to figure out what caused a huge marina fire.

More than a dozen boats and yachts caught fire in a marina in Seneca, about 60 miles southwest of Chicago.

The fire overnight ignited 15 luxury yachts as they sat in winter store at the Spring Brook Marina in Seneca.

"Suspicious certainly, but we don't have anything to tell us what the ignition cause was, so we're keeping it classified as suspicious for now," said LaSalle County Sheriff Tom Templeton.

Daylight revealed the smoldering, charred shells of the boats, some destroyed from bow to stern, others partially but significantly damaged.

One is registered to an owner in Crestwood. Marina management says others come from Chicago and the suburbs.

They were winterized, which means they would have been drained of fuel. They were stored up on blocks and out of the water. Once they caught fire, it hours for firefighters to extinguish the flames.

The sheriff says the losses here are huge.

"I'm sure in the millions, the size alone indicates that," said Templeton.

This is the second suspicious boat fire in LaSalle County in as many weeks. On New Year's, a boat ignited in the old Westclox warehouse in Peru set the entire place ablaze. Two teens are in custody charged with starting that fire.

The sheriff and state fire marshal are considering the possibility the marina fire may have been a copycat.

"It certainly caught enough media attention," Templeton said." Someone could have seen that."

An employee at the Spring Brook Marina says she believes all that was burned is insured and can be replaced.