BATH — The State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating a fire that was set Thursday night at Waterfront Park, destroying a portion of the city-owned dock and two privately owned dinghies.

The fire occurred around midnight, and was spotted by a Bath Iron Works employee heading home, said Bath fire Capt. David Hudson. The cause is unknown, but the fire was likely set by someone on the docks because there was no ignition source in either boat, an investigator said.

“There’s no heat source there at this point,” said Mary MacMaster, an investigator with the fire marshal’s office. “I’m trying to make a determination whether it’s an accidental or a deliberately set incendiary fire.”

The fire department quickly contained the blaze to a small section of the wooden dock, keeping the main dock intact. “One float is a total loss. The two tender boats got the worse end of the stick,” said Darren Delano, an employee with Bath’s public works department.

The owner of one of the boats, Tom Ramsey, is a public works employee and helped pull the charred remnants out of the water Friday morning. Heat from the fire fused Ramsey’s fiberglass dinghy to an inflatable one, owned by Bath City Council Chairwoman Mari Eosco.

Ramsey used the boat to reach his larger one moored in the Kennebec River. The small boat was not insured. “I’ll have to buy a new pair of swim trunks,” he said.

Gene Nygaard, owner of the nearby Kennebec Tavern and Marina, said he was called late Thursday about the fire, as well, and at first was worried about his docks – which tie up dozens of motorboats.

“I was half asleep and all I heard was ‘the docks are on fire,'” Nygaard said. “I hope it was just some kids screwing around. It does leave some apprehension.”

The loss of the section of floating dock shouldn’t be an issue for the city, according to City Manager Bill Giroux. “We were planning on replacing several of those next summer, so it’s not going to have a huge impact on the city,” he said.

Although the city has insurance, the deductible is more than the cost of a new dock, so the city won’t pursue a claim. Giroux said he is more concerned about what led to the fire.

“It’s more disappointing in that the general public had their skiffs down there, and they’re not going to feel safe putting them down there,” Giroux said. “That worries me more than the dock.”

Despite the loss of his boat, Ramsey was glad the situation wasn’t as bad as it could have been. “I’m just relieved it wasn’t my other (boat),” Ramsey said. “Plus, how many people can say their dinghy burned down?”

Chris Chase can be contacted at:

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