Fire damages False Creek dragon boat facility
Published Sunday, October 5, 2014 1:21PM PDT Last Updated Sunday, October 5, 2014 6:50PM PDT
When Greg Lamb got a call from his security company at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, he wasn’t immediately concerned.
“Usually, it’s a false alarm,” Lamb said of the security calls he gets as race director for Vancouver’s Dragon Boat Festival. “Our trailer is alarmed because we’ve had so many problems with theft in the past.”
About a minute after he got the call, though, a friend texted him the bad news. There was a fire in one of the dragon boat storage facilities on False Creek.
He called a coworker who lives nearby and asked her to head over to check out the scene. Then he got out of bed and made his way down too.
When Lamb saw the damage that had been done, his heart sank. The fire had destroyed more than 100 lifejackets, paddles, pop-up shelters, tools and equipment, and “at least 10” one-man outrigger boats, each one worth between $2,000 and $3,000.
The boats that were destroyed can be used for racing, but were more commonly used by club members for training purposes.
“That program was getting very popular,” Lamb said. “A lot of the dragon boat paddlers like using them because it’s just one person. They don’t need their whole team to come down. They can just come down here and if they’re a member they can just take it out and be on the water in two minutes.”
This winter, they won’t be able to do that.
Lamb estimates that the property destroyed in the fire could be worth as much as $50,000, but as bad as it was, it could have been much worse. The organization has completed all of its festivals for the year, he said.
“It’s a blow,” Lamb said. “But thankfully, it’s at the end of our season.”
Gweny Wong works at Creekside Kayaks, which shares an office with the Dragon Boat Festival. She said she was “shocked” when she heard about the fire. Her boats are stored on the docks and were spared from the fire, but her office was destroyed.
For dragon boat instructor Gene Figueroa, the fire was “frustrating,” particularly because many of the boats that were destroyed had recently been repaired.
“We just fixed them,” Figueroa said. “They were all just repaired, and now they’re ashes and rubble.”