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News / Northwest

Fire at Washington seafood facility destroys hundreds of crab pots before season opener

By Associated Press
Published: January 23, 2024, 6:40pm

ILWACO — A fire at a port building along the coast in Washington destroyed more than 1,000 crab pots just ahead of the state’s commercial Dungeness crab season, which opens Feb. 1.

The blaze began around noon on Monday at the Port of Ilwaco, which is near the mouth of the Columbia River and north of Astoria, Oregon, KING-TV reported.

The remote area of the fire made it difficult to get enough water supply to fight the blaze, the Ilwaco Fire Department said in a Tuesday statement. About 8,500 crab pots on the deck surrounding the building made fighting the fire even more difficult, officials said. No injuries were reported.

“This town, Ilwaco, is a fisherman community,” Natasha Beals told KING-TV. “Crabbing, fishing, every single family — almost every single family — here is affected.”

Ilwaco Landing, the building at the site, has been used for commercial crabbing and fishing, although it hasn’t been fully staffed in recent years.

Washington U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell said in a statement Monday evening that the building had suffered “significant damages,” and that she was closely monitoring the situation.

Heather Hall from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife said the agency would do what they could to help crabbers who lost gear.

The Washington Department of Ecology helped mitigate any potential environmental concerns from fire debris in the Columbia River on Tuesday.

The Dungeness crab harvest is Washington’s most valuable commercial fishery.