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‘Something’s wrong’: Dramatic video shows start of Lake Mead boat blaze

Updated June 17, 2024 - 8:48 pm

After watching video footage that showed the beginning of Sunday’s devastating fire at Lake Mead’s Las Vegas Boat Harbor, a woman whose boat was destroyed wondered if the blaze could’ve been prevented.

Harbor officials, however, said it was up to fire investigators to make that determination.

“It’s just heartbreaking,” said Judy Roman, whose houseboat was totaled and whose security camera recorded the fire.

The fire, which started around 12:30 a.m. on Sunday, damaged at least 26 boats, Candice Hayes, general manager for Boating Lake Mead, which is home to the harbor, previously said. About 10 boats were completely destroyed.

A video provided to the Review-Journal by Roman shows the fire as it started, first with heavy smoke and then with what appear to be bright flames. The video shows people walking near the boat that was initially on fire, but it is not clear who they were.

As smoke filled the camera lens at 12:33 a.m., two men appeared to use a fire extinguisher. The picture was not clear, but a whooshing noise could be heard. A couple minutes later, someone appears to have said, “We only got one fire (inaudible) right here,” according to the audio.

Roman, who said her boat was next to the one where the fire started, is concerned because she feels that the people in the video took too long to use the fire extinguisher.

Bruce Nelson, director of operations at the harbor, said marina employees did their jobs.

“They’re not firemen,” he said. They’re trained to call 911, he said.

As for Roman’s assertion that the fire was preventable, he said, “That’s for the fire investigators to decide.”

By 12:37 a.m., what appear to be flames were so bright that the video, black and white because of the nighttime, shifted to color.

“Something’s wrong,” someone is heard saying.

The National Park Service said in a news release that the probe into the fire was still ongoing. Asked about the fire’s cause Thursday, spokesperson John Haynes said, “We continue to investigate.” He did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

As of Friday, salvage was starting and people could access their boats on dock R via shuttles, Hayes said. Dock I will soon be open up to the area of the fire damage, she said.

Most of the marina and the rest of the park is open to the public.

Contact Noble Brigham at nbrigham@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BrighamNoble on X.

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