'Despondent' Man Sets Fire to Vessel, Police Say


     A man was taken to South Peninsula Hospital in Homer Monday night after he apparently set fire to a commercial fishing vessel stored at a local boatyard.

     Homer Police took a call at 8:10 p.m. Monday evening that a 58-year-old man had boarded a commercial fishing vessel stored at the Northern Enterprises Boatyard on Kachemak Drive and was threatening to commit suicide and burn the vessel. 

     According to the police incident log, an unidentified 51-year-old female was the person who called 911, saying that “a relative is threatening to burn her father’s property.”

     Officers responded to the scene and began negotiating with the man via cell phone. Homer Police Lieutenant Randy Rosencrans describes the man as “despondent. He says officers soon noticed that the vessel – the “Slava II” – had been doused with “an unknown accelerant.”

     After four hours of negotiations, at about 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, the boat was rocked by an explosion and became engulfed in flames. The man soon emerged from the burning vessel suffering from burn injuries and was taken to South Peninsula Hospital in Homer.

     Rosencrans says the explosion could have been worse than it was.

     "It was contained by the aluminum weather housing on the back ... but then a really big fire started that caused a lot of damage," said Rosencrans.

     Two members of the Homer Volunteer Fire Department were on the scene when the explosion happened, says Rosencrans, but they did not have equipment with them to put out the fire. Firefighting apparatus was quickly called in from both the Fire Department and Kachemak Emergency Services.

     Rosencrans says damage to other vessels was minimal but the “Slava II” was severely damaged.  According to the NOAA Fisheries Alaska Office, the “Slava II” is a 48.5-foot commercial fishing vessel owned by Anchor Point resident Peter Martishev.

     Rosencrans says the man who started the fire Monday night had not been identified Tuesday because he had not been charged with a crime. Rosencrans says it is – quote – “more than likely” that he eventually will be charged.