2 Die in Marina Fire
People ask, “What’s the worst thing youi’ve seen at a marina?” In late February 2016, a married couple perished on a 43-foot Hatteras when fire broke out at the beginning of the main dock at Dozier’s Port Urbanna and raged outward toward Urbanna Creek.
Just up the hill, Buddy Wyker awoke at 4 am Feb. 29 at his home overlooking the creek and captured a photo of the entire Dock B and clubhouse ablaze. The victims were named by State Police as Francis Xavier Blantz, 75, and his wife Julia T. Blantz, 55. “I knew the couple very well and had just seen them recently,” Wyker said.
Around 20 boats were destroyed, two of them sailboats. Wyker said the wind was blowing directly out along the dock and the flames may have trapped the Blantzes. So if the wind been blowing inbound, it might have taken out more buildings. The couple was staying on the boat while their house was under construction.
Wyker grew up on the hill, called Overlook. He said the last big fire was in 1947 or 1948 a hundred yards along the creek. His father was a charter operator on an oyster boat. “He managed to tow seven other boats away from the fire and into the creek, but he burned his hand badly grabbing an anchor that was too hot.”
Now the ruins of the Port Urbanna fire show some of the metal shed of the long boathouse sticking up from the water, as well remnants of the new floating docks at the end of the pier. And it could be weeks before the creek is dredged. The Chesapeake Bay Act precludes rebuilding boat houses because they inhibit the growth of grasses considered vital to the bay. So, if Dock B is rebuilt, as everyone would hope, it will likely be with floating docks.
Ironically, a watercolor of the very scene was done years ago by John Barber from the Wyker home atop the hill on Watling Street.
Update 2021: It took two years and more than 20 separate insurance claims to sort out the mess, drag the little bay, and restore the marina with Dock B a floater. Today you would never know what happened. And people don’t talk much about it.
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2 die in marina fire 2 die in marina fire