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Boat fire near Lazaretto Creek boat ramp causing concerns about emergency response

Boat fire near Lazaretto Creek boat ramp causing concern about emergency response
Published: Feb. 23, 2015 at 9:22 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 25, 2015 at 8:22 PM EDT
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TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) - A traffic backup is raising a major concern after a fire near Lazaretto Creek boat ramp Sunday. The backup blocked the crews that needed to get to the scene and help.

Fire officials said a boat backed up into high voltage power lines with its mast up which started the massive fire.

With only one way on and off Tybee Island, fire officials said drivers need to be mindful of both emergency vehicles and utility vehicles because in a situation like this, the power crews needed to get there so the firefighters could do their job.

Highway 80 turned into a parking lot Sunday around 11:30 a.m. after the 26 foot vessel sparked the massive fire.

"What happened with the mast being in the high voltage power lines...we had to standby and wait for Georgia Power," Chief CL Sasser said.

Firefighters needed to wait for the power company to determine it was safe for the firefighters. But while the fire departments waited to battle the blaze, Georgia Power crews had to battle more than 30 minutes of traffic that had backed up on the only road on to the island.

"When we need them, usually we need them in a hurry and in this situation we had to wait and the vessel was on fire and there was a good chance that the vehicle was going to catch fire and we just had to stand there and watch until Georgia Power arrived on the scene," Sasser said.

While the power companies are not granted the same exceptions as emergency vehicles on the roads, the fire department wants drivers to be aware that in a situation like this. Those crews are essential to getting the situation under control.

"If the public can get out of the way and make room for them. Just be mindful that these are other professionals trying to get to the scene," Sasser said.

It took about an hour to get everything under control. Luckily no one was hurt, but the boat was a total loss.

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