STAMFORD -- The cause of a fire that resulted in the sinking of two boats Wednesday night, lighting up Stamford Harbor and sending plumes of smoke through the city, remains under investigation.
Several people had to be rescued from the dock as thick smoke billowed around them, and four had to be treated at Stamford Hospital for smoke inhalation, said Assistant Fire Chief Trevor Roach.
It was the first test for the city's new 34-foot fireboat that is capable of pumping 2,000 gallons of water a minute. The boat went into service late last year.
The sunken boats were to be raised Thursday so investigators could begin looking into the cause of the fire. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection also had crews on the scene Thursday trying to minimize the flow of diesel fuel into the West Branch of Stamford Harbor.
The fire was reported at 8:18 p.m. Wednesday at the marina at the Avalon on Stamford Harbor, 150 Southfield Ave.
Roach said the fire appears to have started on a 40- to 45-foot powerboat and then spread to a nearby sailboat tied up on the same dock. It took nearly two hours to bring the fire under control, said Chief Fire Marshal Charles Spaulding.
One man, who said he witnessed the start of the fire, said one of the boats was unoccupied when the flames ignited, but the other boat that caught fire had one person aboard. The man, who declined to give his name, said the person on the boat got out safely.
Roach said the acrid smoke given off by the Fiberglas hulls was reported north into downtown sections of the city.
"Fiberglas is extremely noxious for us and gives off all kinds of gases," Roach said. "The smoke was spreading fairly well and we had all kinds of calls for smoke throughout all sorts of sections of the city."
Four engine companies responded, Roach said in addition to the new $610,000 fireboat. The vessel pumping capacity is five times more than the department's previous fireboat.
"It was a tremendous asset for us," Roach said.