Bend couple puts out boat fire

Commercial fisherman Pat Kemmish, out on the Alsea Bay Tuesday morning, relies on the 3-month commercial crabbing season for his family’s livelihood. (Photo by Cheri Brubaker) Justin and Amanda Wold, of Bend, were waiting for their Chinese food at the Port of Alsea when they spotted a fire about one of the boats at the dock.

Saves fisherman’s livelihood

WALDPORT — When she saw the smoke rising off a boat docked at the Port of Alsea, Amanda Wold made joke about someone “hiding out there smoking a big joint,” she said. “It started out slow, then it started to billow, and then it flamed.” A battery on a commercial crabbing boat was on fire.

Amanda and her husband, Justin Wold, of Bend, sprang into action, calling 911 and searching for a fire extinguisher. They were looking on the boats to see a fire extinguisher they didn’t have to dig for, Amanda explained. 

Justin grabbed one by the steering wheel of a nearby boat and was able to extinguish the fire before the fire department arrived, Amanda told the News-Times. “They went in and made sure it was out,” she said.

“My husband is the one who found the fire extinguisher, got on the boat with it and put the fire out. All I did was make a phone call,” she said. “This year, fire is kind of a touchy subject for us all.”

Visiting Amanda’s parents, who live between Yachats and Waldport, the Wolds spent Saturday, Oct. 17, doing yard work, Amanda related. Her father wanted to take them out to dinner that evening. The children stayed home with Grandma. It was Yachats Mushroom Festival weekend, Amanda recalled, and she was excited to try some of the delicious items featuring mushrooms on the menu at local restaurants. 

However, without reservations, the Wolds found long lines and long wait times. Opting to order take-out Chinese food in Waldport, they decided to spend the time waiting for their order on a bench at the port, where they were in the right place at the right time for putting out the fire. 

Concerned that the owner of the used fire extinguisher might be missing it, Amanda took to social media. “The middle blue boat caught on fire, so my husband and I called 911 and stole a fire extinguisher off someone else’s boat. If you know the owner, ya might wanna let them know,” she posted on Facebook.

Amanda noted, “We got a call from the restaurant telling us the food had been ready for awhile.”

While the owner of the fire extinguisher hasn’t come forward, the owner of the burning boat, Pat Kemmish, was grateful for the Wolds’ quick response. 

The boat is fine, he said. You could see some plastic melted where the battery was, and some of the crab pots were scorched, but easily repaired. “It’s my livelihood,” Kemmish said of the boat. 

The commercial crab boat wasn’t insured, Kemmish told the News-Times. He explained that the commercial crabbing season is short, just three months, weekends excluded. The loss of the boat for even a day is costly — to lose the boat to fire would have been devastating.

Kemmish was quick to point out that the fire was caused by a faulty battery, and that both the battery and the harness were replaced by the retailer. It’s a small town, Kemmish explained. He wanted to be clear that he knows how to wire a battery.

Reaching out to the Wolds, Kemmish said he’d like to give them some crab the next time they are in town, which Amanda appreciated.

Kemmish was spotted out on the bay Tuesday morning, checking his traps.

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