Welding mishap suspected cause of Boblo boat blaze

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A tragic scene in Detroit as the beloved SS Ste. Claire Boblo Boat went up in flames 

Renovations were taking place on the boat moments before it went up in flames. Detroit fire investigators believe a welding mishap may have caused the blaze.

"He actually tried to put the fire out before we got here," said Capt. David Lafata, Detroit Fire Department. "(They were) doing some wielding operations on the boat and it ended up getting away from them."

Officials claim land crews, police fire and EMS arrived to the scene within minutes, but some witnesses say it took this fire boat more than 30 minutes to arrive to an already fully engulfed boat 

"I can't verify that right now," said Lafata. "But I know they have a distance to come. Their station is on the other side of the Ambassador Bridge."

FOX 2: "Is that an issue for the Fire Department?"

"Is it an issue? Not generally, no," he said.

Once on site officials say the fire boat pumped at least 11,000 gallons of water per minute.

"I just saw the fire and I called officers and told them to call the fire department because the boat is on fire," said witness Herbert Worthy. "I heard the man hollering on the boat, 'Help help.' Some people ran over and got him off the boat 

"Devastating, I mean the boat is history. I used to ride the boat."

Fire officials say there were a number of factors that made fighting this fire difficult.

"I think it went as well as it possibly could with conditions," said Capt. David Lafata. "The distance of water supply and the wind, it was up.

"It was a hard one to try to stop." 

As fire and emergency crews prepare to leave the scene, the charred skeletal frame of the boat is all that remains Officials say no one was hurt in this fire.

But those who love this boat and what it stands for, say this a tragic loss for generations of Detroiters 

"I'm speaking for everyone in Detroit, it is very emotional," said Janet Livingston.