Boat explodes one month after being set on fire

Boat fire investigation continues

SOCASTEE, SC (WMBF) - Horry County Fire Rescue doused the flames that engulfed a boat at the Hague Marina after initial reports of an explosion, Thursday afternoon.

This is the same location where several boats burned in December 2012.

The owner of the boat that exploded Thursday confirmed his boat, the "Lucky Striker" was also set on fire on March 11, 2013.

In the past few months, suspicious fire reports have been a common occurrence at the Hague Marina in Socastee. Police reports from Horry County Police show incidents like these date back to late 2012:

December 21, 2012 at 7:25 p.m.

  • 38 foot boat in dry storage and the surrounding brush caught fire
  • First HCFR unit on scene states the fire appears to have been set intentionally.
  • Incident report notes there was a strong smell of kerosene
  • Witness saw a car with New York tags near where the storage area burned just two hours before.

December 23, 2012 at 8 a.m.

  • Police receive several separate reports of arson at the Hague Marina.
  • One boat owner claims he found a cigarette wrapped in paper towels on the deck of his boat.

December 28, 2012 at 1 a.m.

  • Suspicious fire reports at the Hague Marina led HCFR to find three boats engulfed in flames, some the same victims from December 21.
  • HCFR investigators state in police reports that the fire could have been intentionally set.

March 11, 2013 at 8 a.m.

  • Remodeled 1969 37 foot Striker - the "Lucky Striker" - was set on fire
  • Electrical wiring from the boats battery was connected to a plastic jug containing what appeared to be gasoline.
  • Explicit language and swastika spray painted on inoperable boat neighboring the victim's boat.
  • First responders advised in the police report that homeless persons had been sleeping on this boat, and suggested this act may be retaliation for being forced to leave.
  • The boat was valued at $90,000.

In the latest occurrence, Horry County Police spokesman Sgt. Robert Kegler says his department received a 911 call on Thursday, April 11 indicating an explosion was heard at the marina around 1:30 p.m.

The first firefighters on the scene found the boat, which was in dry storage, on fire and quickly extinguished the flames, says HCFR spokeswoman Leslie Yancey.

Kegler says with every reported explosion, authorities assume whatever caused it could cause another explosion, but they could not confirm the existence of any explosive devices. That's why bomb specialists from Horry County and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division were called to the scene.

No one was injured in the explosion, and everyone was evacuated from the marina for several hours.

Sgt. Kegler further explained - live on WMBF News at 5 - that just before 5 p.m., bomb techs declared the scene safe and residents in the area were not in danger.

He explained that it is a crime scene that Horry County Police and SLED investigated jointly. They blocked off the scene overnight, halting the investigation as storms rolled through. Once dawn broke, they began searching for the cause of the explosion.

At around 1 p.m. Friday, the scene was released back to the marina.

Leslie Yancey says a boat is surrounded by other vessels, but it is not located near any other structures.

Sgt. Kegler says the fires from 2012 are also still under investigation, and they are looking into whether or not these events are connected.

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