Tiki bar catches fire at Island Boatyard

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO | “The Shipwreck” tiki bar at the Island Boatyard Thursday morning.

A tiki bar caught fire last night at the Island Boatyard and was quickly extinguished by the Shelter Island Fire Department.

There were no injuries, no damage to any boats and Fire Chief John D’Amato said the cause of the fire was not suspicious. The bar, which sits on a concrete slab in the boatyard, is known as “The Shipwreck.” It’s a sailboat built in the 1920s and long retired as a watering hole. It sustained some damage amidships and to the mast.

The fire started about 5 p.m. Wednesday, according to Chief D’Amato, when workers were shrink-wrapping the boat for the winter. Shrink-wrapping is secured to surfaces by “heat guns,” Chief D’Amato said, and apparently the workers wrapped the boat and went to take a break at about 4:30 p.m. When they returned about half an hour later, the bar was on fire.

The chief speculated that since the wooden boat is old and dry, heat was trapped inside the shrink-wrap and the wood was eventually ignited.

“We knocked down the fire in just a few minutes, Chief D’Amato said.

Thursday morning some of the water used to extinguish the blaze had formed icicles on the gunwales of the bar and were dripping in the sunlight. James Brantuk, the manager of the Boatyard, said the bar would be rebuilt and ready for business next spring.

“Now it can really be called ‘The Shipwreck,’” he said with a smile. “This 90-year old boat has 10 lives.”

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