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Labor Day Weekend, Boats Burn at Peck’s Marina

Editor’s Note: Our thanks to Ken White, Thousand Islands Association (TIA) board member, for sharing these photographs.  Ken was with a group of friends, cruising up the river, when they spotted smoke.

Around 11:30am on Saturday, September 6th, 2015, river rat Pete Medcalf, a close friend and first time visitor from Ithaca and I were having a leisurely Labor Day Weekend cruise during an increasingly hot and sunny day on the River.

Minutes later, as we came up the Canadian Channel, black smoke was visible from quite a distance. Any fire on the River is a scary event, so I am glad to report that this one could have been LOTS worse, had it not been for a fantastic response by local fire departments.

Ken W. White ©2015

We picked up speed as we headed toward the Canadian Span of the bridge.

Ken W. White ©2015

Just off Field-and-Stream Island at Ivy Lea, it wasn’t clear whether it was an island, cottage or boat that was aflame.

Ken W. White ©2015

Passing Ivy Island it became clear that the source was located in the bay past Champagne Point.Was it Peck’s Marina?

After dropping Pete off at the Needle’s Eye on Hill Island, we headed straight for Peck’s.

Apparently, the 26 foot Regal was originally docked pointing downstream, and by the time we arrived, was likely turned 180 degrees by the firefighters, thereby eliminating confinement, as the original blaze was focused between the gas dock, port side and the floating dock just off the bow.

The photo below, is a screen grab taken from the cited 4 second YouTube clip captured by “Polaris.”  It confirms the unusual burn patterns we saw on the docks and the initial orientation.

Clip of fire polaris 2  (Waiting for permission from the photographer to use this photo and to add the video. 

By the time we arrived, we were pleased to see that the fire had been knocked down and the smoke had turned from black to gray.

Ken W. White ©2015

The charred hull of a boat had been fuelling at Peck’s marina. The explosion and subsequent fire apparently happened when the boat was restarted. (We have not heard the final outcome of the fire and do not wish to speculate.  However, once that information is official, we hope it will be publicised, so that others can learn boating and marina safety.)

Ken W. White ©2015



The flames in the engine compartment kept wanting to reignite, but the firemen finally won the battle.
Ken W. White ©2015


A totally charred boat, charcoal converted dock and the bow of the second boat that burned.

Ken W. White ©2015

The last few moments afloat for this once proud cruiser… (Note the difference at the bow between the charred port and relatively unscathed starboard bow section)

fire nine

A departing shot – Undamaged by all the flames and heat, this Maple Leaf is “One Tuff Flag”!

Ken W. White ©2015


Photographs and commentary by Ken W. White, Hambly Island

Ken W. White grew up in Watertown and currently lives in Ithaca, NY during the “Winter-5”, spending much of the “Summer-7” on Hambly Island in the Navy Group. Spring of 2015, his sister reminded him it was their 60th year on the River! He is a board member of the 81 year old TIA – Thousand Islands Association, best known for placing 200+ markers on rocks and shoals from Wolfe Island to Brockville.

Ken is also a 1969 Electrical Engineering graduate of Cornell University with a BS and Masters in controls. He holds patents in imaging, machine vision, and combustion of powdered biomass. Photography is an avocation, the River his favorite scene. After working at P&G and RJR Nabisco, his 27 year consulting practice applies automated vision systems to manufacturing. Ken often serves as an expert witness in imaging patent litigation cases but says, he’d rather be on the River!

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Bill Ruoff
Comment by: Bill Ruoff
Left at: 12:07 PM Tuesday, September 20, 2016
As a teenager, late 1940's, I stayed at the former Mt. Airy Hotel located on a bluff overlooking the St. Lawrence River at Ivy Lea; today it must be gone and I wonder if Peck's Marine at Ivy Lea is located on the former Mt. Airy site. Is there any history dedicated to Mt. Airy Hotel? I would be pleased to hear about this inquiry. Thank you, Bill Ruoff, Webster, NY - 14580; phone: