Authorities are continuing to investigate a fatal fire in Urbanna that destroyed a dock and a clubhouse at the end of it early Monday morning.
Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said Monday that police were probing the blaze as a possible arson.
Two people were killed in what authorities have described as a fast-moving blaze that erupted around 4:35 a.m. Monday at the Dozier Port Urbanna Marina.
A spokesman for the state medical examiner’s office in Richmond, where the remains of the two people who died were taken, could not confirm either of their identities on Tuesday morning.
A boathouse and storage facility as well as 21 boats and two cars in the marina’s parking lot were also consumed by flames.
In addition to state police, 14 volunteer fire departments from across the region responded to the fire, as well as the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard.
For many who boated there, the marina was a decades-old institution where generations of family members spent much of their time growing up. Until Monday morning, Sam Straus’ family had occupied slip four, located along the right side of the dock, since 1946.
The Jaks Plus Two — a 31-foot Chris-Craft Commander named by combining the first initials of Straus’ name with his mother’s, father’s and sister’s — was destroyed in the fire. The vessel’s name was amended after his mother birthed twins.
Straus remembered the marina as the site of countless family outings, of weekends growing up spent driving from his family’s Richmond home to the river town where his mother and her girlfriends would sunbathe and his father would catch rockfish.
Old age couldn’t keep Straus’ dad, Archie, from the water.
“He was getting up in years and we almost put him in a wheelbarrow to get him out there so he could go fishing,” Straus remembered in a phone interview.
Before the fire, Straus was last in Urbanna in mid-November, around the time of the small community’s big attraction, the annual Oyster Festival. He was there to put antifreeze in the boat’s water system and otherwise prepare the vessel for winter weather.
Straus, 77, planned on leaving the boat to his adult son, who would refit and modernize it. Now, uncertain with how the insurance company will handle his claim, Straus doesn’t know if he’ll be able to replace a family treasure. He also fears the dock, with its sturdy pilings and large pieces of wood, is irreplaceable.
“You’ll never see a place like that again,” he said.