Houseboats catch fire at popular Lake Powell destination on Utah-Arizona line

PAGE, Ariz. (AP) — More than half a dozen houseboats momentarily caught fire at a popular boating destination on the Utah-Arizona line on Friday, bursting into flames as tourists and jet skiers stood nearby before the flames were extinguished.

The decks of boats moored at the Wahweap Marina on Lake Powell smoldered as plumes of black smoke wafted through the air above the lake and the red rock walls that form its perimeter, as seen in video by observers.

Robert Wilkes, the owner of Skylite Houseboat Management, said the fire started in the early afternoon and lasted for about an hour and a half. Wilkes, a trained firefighter, used a garden hose and worked with park rangers, who he said arrived shortly after the boats were lit, to help put out the blaze.

“I started pulling the boats off the dock trying to create space so it didn’t act like a line of trees,” he said.

By Friday evening, the fire had been extinguished and brought under control, said Lisa Cesaro, spokeswoman for Aramark Destinations, which maintains the marina.

“The cause of the fire is under investigation and information will be released by the National Park Service as it becomes available,” Cesaro said.

Wilkes said he had not heard of anyone injured, but said one of his management company’s boats was destroyed.

Throughout the spring, boaters have brought their boats back to the marina after an abnormally wet winter that raised the lake level from historic lows. More than two million visitors go boating on Lake Powell each year, according to the National Park Service.

Park rangers have responded to houseboat fires on several occasions in recent years, including in 2022, 2015 and 2011.

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