A fire this morning, June 19, has destroyed the 102-foot (31m) expedition-style M/Y Polar Bear built by Citadel Yachts. The fire began while the yacht was undergoing regular maintenance at the Marine Group Boat Works shipyard in Southern California.
About six fire departments and other agencies tackled the blaze, which burned for more than two hours. Several sources in the area shared photographs of the fire and said the flames could be seen more than a mile away.
“I’ve been doing this 30 years and that was the largest fire I’ve ever seen,” one spectator said. “It was gigantic is all I could say.”
M/Y Polar Bear regularly travels the U.S. West Coast and the Pacific Northwest. It stops regularly in the shipyard in Chula Vista for work. The steel-hulled yacht is considered destroyed.
The blaze began around 9.15am and fire-fighters doused the 31m yacht with water, but with little initial success. According to eye-witnesses Police opened fire on the yacht with high-powered rifles to blow out the windows so the water could be more effective.
Fire investigators’ initial assessment is that the fire was probably started by welding work. There were believed to be 3000 gallons of fuel on board and as of Thursday night the burned-out yacht was still smouldering.
Built for an experienced yachtman, Polar Bear was built in steel and aluminium for long range cruising. The interior layout accommodated 10 guests and there were crew quarters for four members. She was powered by twin 685hp Caterpillar C-18B engines giving a top speed of 12.5 knots, and cruising speed of 10 knots and a range in excess of 5,000 nautical miles.