SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — The massive weekend fire that tore through a warehouse at Pier 45 in Fisherman’s Wharf devastated many of the businesses that provide San Francisco with its seafood.
Some are calling it the biggest disaster the San Francisco fishing fleet has ever experienced.
Smoke still lingered in the area as hot spots continued to flare up Tuesday from a fire once furious enough to melt steel beams into twisted trash. Shed C at Pier 45 was completely destroyed in the blaze.
Water 2 Table Fish Company owner Joe Conte says San Francisco’s crab fishing fleet may have lost more than a million dollars worth of gear.
“The tragic part about this is that the building that went down was the storage for the fishermen, so all their gear was in there,” said Conte.
Thousands of crab traps — stored at the shed in the off season — may have fueled the fire. Each trap holds hundreds of feet of polypropylene line, plastic floats and bait boxes. Many boat captains had a life’s savings worth of fishing gear destroyed.
“This is probably the biggest disaster the San Francisco fishing fleet has ever seen” said skipper Sarah Bates. She owns and operates the fishing boat Bounty. None of her crab gear survived. While she worries about her own survival, she is just as concerned for her fellow fishermen.
“I do worry that people who are towards the end of their careers, they will never rebuild,” said Bates.
On behalf of the Crab Boat Owners Association, Bates has put together a Go Fund Me page to help devastated crabbing families. As of Tuesday evening, the page had raised over $52,000 of its stated one million dollar goal.
“Local crab is an institution in San Francisco and we’re just not gonna have it. It’s not going to be from San Francisco this year,” she said.
A second Go Fund Me Page is being sponsored by the Water 2 Table Fish Company. That campaign has a goal of $500,000 and raised over $40,000 as of Tuesday evening. Conte remarked that Fisherman’s Wharf has never seen anything like this.
“I mean, it’s of historical proportions. I mean it’s devastating,” said Conte.
Late Tuesday afternoon, San Francisco Arson Investigators were on the scene. They were not expected to enter the massive debris field to begin searching for a cause until the fire is determined to be completely extinguished.