Blaze erupts on board fireworks barge |

Blaze erupts on board fireworks barge

by Ryan Hoffman
A barge caught fire early Thursday morning following the July Fourth fireworks display on Lake Tahoe's South Shore.
Provided / Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District

A fire on board a barge used to shoot fireworks on Lake Tahoe could have been far more devastating were it not for a new firefighting boat.

Without the boat, named Marine 24, the entire barge likely would have sank, Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District Fire Marshal Eric Guevin said.

The fire started around 12:27 a.m. Thursday, several hours after the annual Fourth of July fireworks display had concluded on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore.

The fireworks crew aboard the barge — one of three used for the show — was conducting post production clean up when the fire broke out. They attempted to extinguish the blaze with fire extinguishers but were unable to suppress the flames, which shot about 30 feet into the air.

About two hours earlier crews discovered a much smaller fire immediately following the 25-minute show. They believe they extinguished that fire with a water can but it’s unclear if the first fire reignited to form the second fire, according to Guevin.

Authorities believe they have narrowed the source of the fire to a lift charge, which sends the projectiles into the air, Guevin added. The investigation is ongoing.

Once the second fire erupted, the fire district immediately responded on Marine 24 and extinguished the fire within six minutes.

The district deployed a boom around the barge to contain any possible contamination. Environmental tests found no chemicals or contaminants of any kind, Guevin said.

Pieces of the barge did break off into the water. Fire crews retrieved those and a diver will be checking for debris on the lake floor.

The boat was anchored out in the lake near Stateline.

Nobody was injured in the incident.

Guevin, a nearly eight-year veteran with the district, said he couldn’t recall a similar incident in previous years. While there have been small fires onboard the barges, there has not been a blaze similar in magnitude.

“We’ve had a little tiny fire with some cardboard that’s caught on fire, but nothing like this,” he said.

This was the 37th consecutive year for the South Shore fireworks display, which is sponsored by the Tahoe Douglas Visitors Authority.