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Published: Sunday, 6/15/2003

Catawba boat club leveled by blaze

CATAWBA ISLAND, Ohio - An early morning fire destroyed the West Harbor Yacht Club at Gem Beach Marina here yesterday.

Catawba Island Fire Chief Dan Barlow estimated $600,000 damage to the former motel that had been used as a yacht club for decades.

The building was about 160 feet by 25 feet.

Thirty-five firefighters from four departments responded to the blaze and pumped water from Lake Erie to battle the flames.

When emergency crews arrived, the fire already had spread throughout the building and flames were shooting out of two large windows in the front.

A portion of the roof also had collapsed, Chief Barlow said.

The fire, which was reported by a boater at 5:30 a.m., was extinguished within an hour. No injuries were reported.

Fire officials were still investigating the cause yesterday afternoon, but the blaze was not thought to be suspicious, Chief Barlow said.

Ron May, a trustee on the club's board of directors and a former commodore, said the building would be rebuilt.

“It's a total loss, and everyone is upset about it,” Mr. May, a Cleveland resident, said.

“This is a place we all come up to from different parts of the state as a place to meet our friends.”

About 150 families belong to the yacht club, which was established in 1964.

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