Tahoe Queen fire: Iconic paddle wheeler may be ‘a total loss’ | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Queen fire: Iconic paddle wheeler may be ‘a total loss’

Claire Cudahy
ccudahy@tahoedailytribune.com

The Tahoe Queen on fire at Lake Tahoe in Zephyr Cove on Tuesday morning.

STATELINE, Nev. — No fuel or oil leaked into Lake Tahoe's crystal clear waters from the burning Tahoe Queen thanks to the quick work of local firefighters, the U.S. Coast Guard reported Wednesday, Aug. 17.

The iconic paddle wheeler had 800 gallons of diesel fuel and 100 gallons of hydraulic oil on board when the fire broke out around 7:50 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 16, while moored in Zephyr Cove for renovations.

U.S. Coast Guard and Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District responded, and the fire was out by 8:50 a.m.

"The main thing we worried about was hydrocarbon leaking into the water," said Eric Guevin, fire marshal for Tahoe Douglas Fire. "TRPA came out and the EPA came out and they were very happy with how it had been handled."

When the fire started, the Coast Guard placed buoys in the water to keep debris contained for clean up, noted Guevin.

The fire retardant used to put out the fire is also safe for the environment, he said.

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"Our foam is biodegradable," he said. "It's not a biological concern. It is EPA approved."

The U.S. Coast Guard is still investigating the cause, but at the time of the fire, sections of the hull were being replaced with metal and welded to the boat. Painting contractors were also on board.

Two of the contractors suffered injuries and were treated on the scene, one for smoke inhalation and another for a sprained back after he jumped from the boat's roof to escape the fire, according to fire officials.

Guevin reported that the damage to the boat is "major." The boat has three decks, and all but the first had "substantial" damage.

"It's at a tipping point on whether or not it's a total loss," Guevin said.

Karen Cutler, spokesperson for Aramark, the company that operates Lake Tahoe Cruises, said they are still "in the process of determining extent of damage."

The M.S. Dixie, which was removed from the cove when the fire started, has resumed full operation, she added.