April 17, 2014

Elyria
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Shop fire causes thousands in damage to Vermilion marina

Don Parsons, left, and a Florence Township firefighter survey damage at Parsons Marina on Sunday afternoon in Vermilion. PHOTO COURTESY OF TRACEY LISTON

Don Parsons, left, and a Florence Township firefighter survey damage at Parsons Marina on Sunday afternoon in Vermilion. PHOTO COURTESY OF TRACEY LISTON

VERMILION — A fire at Don Parsons Marina, 636 Sandusky St., called in around 3 p.m. Sunday, caused between $250,000 and $300,000 in damage, according to Fire Chief Chris Stempowski.

The fire, believed to be accidental but still under investigation, took about 30 minutes to contain. Stempkowski said firefighters arrived about three minutes after being called. They found smoke coming from gutters on the roof upon arrival at the two-floor metal repair shop.

No one was in the building when the fire broke out and no one was injured in the fire, which was extinguished in about an hour. Stempowski said a boat under repair and boating equipment and tools were destroyed.

Owner Don Parsons wouldn’t comment Sunday, but in a May Chronicle-Telegram article said his family has lived on the Vermilion River since about 1870. His grandfather purchased the property in 1913 and the marina opened in 1957. Parsons said he serves about 220 sailboats annually and provides cruises to some 3,200 passengers during the boating season from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Mike Moes, owner of Moe’s Marine Services next to Parsons Marina at the Vermilion Harbor, said the fire was confined to the repair shop and the rest of Parson’s remains open for business. Moes said the marinas are in the middle of “haul out” season in which boats are stored for the winter. Haul out season begins Oct. 1 and runs through November.

Moes praised the response to the fire, which included firefighters from Vermilion Township. He noted boatyard fires have the potential to be very serious because marinas often contain paint, solvents and other flammable materials.

“We’re fortunate that the wind was from the west so it was blowing from the opposite direction of the location,” Moes said. “The fire department responded properly and got it under control very quickly. Everybody’s very grateful for that.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.