At around 5:30 a.m. on March 30, at the Squalicum Harbor marina in Bellingham, a number of 9-1-1 calls reported a fire. One of the calls was made by Sterling Taylor, who is one of the two missing people who are said to have lived aboard their 42-foot power boat, BREAKWIND, which sunk in the marina fire. The other missing person is her husband, Jim Langei. In her 9-1-1 call, Ms. Taylor apparently expressed that they were trapped on board. By the time firefighters reached the dock, their boat was enveloped in flame.
The cause of the two-alarm fire is, as yet, unknown. It’s reported that ten boats were burned. The firefighters had no fireboat to aid them, as the City of Bellingham decommissioned their old fireboat last year. The corrugated metal marina roof in that area collapsed onto the burning boats while crews fought the fire.
April 17, 2012 UPDATE As investigators search the debris of the fire, they’ve discovered a total of twelve boats were burned. Some of the boats have yet to be pulled from the water for further inspection. The cause and origin of the fire have yet to be determined. Bellingham Fire Chief Bill Boyd reportedly stated that having had the decommissioned fireboat would not have saved the couple who perished, as it was the high winds and intense heat that made fighting the fire so difficult.
The bodies of Sterling Taylor, 33, and Jim Langei, 43, have been recovered and identified. According to the medical examiner, they died from smoke inhalation. The couple owned a café called America’s Cup at the marina, and were highly regarded in the community.