Fire closes Whittier fuel dock and injures 2 people

Fire trucks and hoses in front of a green, snow-capped mountain.
Fire crews block off Harbor Loop Road to extinguish a fire on the Whittier fuel dock on Tuesday. (Valerie Kern/Alaska Public Media).

A fire broke out at a Whittier fuel dock on Tuesday, injuring two people and sinking a boat. City officials say the fire has also temporarily closed the dock, the only place in Whittier Harbor for boats to refuel. 

Girdwood Fire Chief Michelle Weston said her department was called at noon to assist with the fire, joining fire departments from the City of Whittier, as well as the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel fire department. Medics evaluated two people who were then transported out by LifeMed, she said.

By Tuesday evening, firefighters had extinguished the blaze. The cause of the fire remained unknown Wednesday.

The dock is the one place in town for boats to refuel, without having to go on land. Its closure has prompted concerns for charter and commercial fishing fleets during the busy summer season.

Jody Mason is owner of the fishing charter Alaskan 4 Star Charters. He said the fire prompted Shoreside Petroleum to reopen its land-based fueling station, and people can fuel their boats by bringing them by trailer. But that’s not a solution for everyone.

“For those of us who have boats that are not trailerable, they are working on getting a fuel truck there that can pump both diesel and gasoline simultaneously,” Mason said. “As of yet, the location of that has not been determined.”

Mason said his business hasn’t been impacted by the fire yet. 

“We’ve been shut down on Tuesdays and Wednesday for a halibut issue,” Mason said. “So it hasn’t affected us as of yet, but it will tomorrow if we can’t get fuel.” 

Mason said he’s “extremely” concerned about what the closure of the dock could mean for charter companies.

“This literally could ruin a large percentage of us,” he said.

Whittier Harbormaster David Borg also told the Anchorage Daily News he had concerns about what the closure would mean for the city’s commercial fishing fleet, expected to return between Thursday and Saturday.

Weston, the fire chief, noted that there have been two Julys in a row where Whittier has seen an explosion on a boat. A boat owner herself, Weston said there are precautions people can take to prevent future incidents, including using the blower on the boat to vent gas fumes.

“I don’t know if it was a factor in either of these boat fueling issues,” Weston said, “but I think it’s a good reminder that there is that blower fan on our vessels, and to know to use it at any time.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

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