Blaze Devours $24 Million Yacht in SoCal Boat Yard

A fire destroyed Larry Jodass' $24 million yacht Thursday, which was dry docked in Chula Vista

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC 7's Artie Ojeda speaks with Larry Jodass, the owner of a $24 million yacht that was destroyed by a raging fire at a dry dock in Chula Vista on June 19. Jodass discusses the history of the vessel, and what it meant to watch it go up in flames.

    The owner of a $24 million yacht that caught fire in a Chula Vista boat yard Thursday said he cried when he saw online video of the vessel going up in flames.

    “Am I angry? No. Anger is not the right word,” said Larry Jodsass in a phone interview with NBC 7. “It was my toy, my wonderful, beautiful piece of equipment. I think it’s the most beautiful boat that ever has been built.”

    Yacht Smoldering Hours After Fire

    [DGO]Yacht Smoldering Hours After Fire
    New video shows the intense inferno after fire broke out on a yacht in a Chula Vista shipyard Thursday. NBC 7’s Steven Luke explains how firefighters attacked the massive blaze.

    Jodsass, 79, is a retired electrical engineer, entrepreneur and former chairman of a successful semiconductor company who now lives in Minnesota.

    He said the news of his yacht catching fire at a dry dock was nothing short of devastating.

    Fire Breaks Out on Yacht

    [DGO] Fire Breaks Out on Yacht
    Raw video footage of a fire that broke out on a yacht dry docked in Chula Vistas on June 19. 2014.

    Jodsass said the yacht he named “Polar Bear” is worth $24 million, took him five years to build and has been in the water for three years. Jodsass said the yacht was dry docked in Chula Vista after a winter journey to Costa Rica.

    Fire Destroys Chula Vista Yacht

    [DGO]Fire Destroys Chula Vista Yacht
    Flames consumed the Polar Bear yacht Thursday morning in Chula Vista, sending a huge cloud of smoke over the South Bay. NBC 7’s Steven Luke reports.

    On Thursday at around 9:15 a.m. a fire broke out on the yacht, engulfing the vessel and sending flames and plumes of smoke into the air near the dry dock in the 900 block of G Street.

    Dispatchers said there was a lot of fuel aboard the vessel, so fire crews were warned of the risk of a possible explosion. Firefighters doused the 100-foot-plus yacht with water from all directions, but with little success because a yacht is designed to keep out water.

    Police opened fire on the boat with high-powered rifles to blow out the windows so the water could be more effective.

    A hazmat team was also called to the scene.

    The shipyard was evacuated as a precaution. Fire officials said two workers suffered minor smoke inhalation injuries.

    Fortunately, the fire did not spread to other nearby vessels. However, the yacht sustained heavy damage.

    A witness told NBC 7 he and his crew were doing welding work on the yacht when it caught fire. Fire investigators' initial assessment is that the welding started the blaze. As of Thursday night, the burned-out yacht was still smoldering.

    Jodass said his yacht was his haven, which he enjoyed to the fullest.

    Pictures and video of the Polar Bear posted online show an elegant and opulent interior, mostly with wood-finished floors and walls. There is a widescreen TV in a bedroom. A bathroom has marble countertops.

    “The beautiful part with this piece of equipment was that no matter who looked at it, it was like, ‘Wow, how in the hell could you have a boat like that?’” Jodass said.

    The cause of the fire is under investigation but fire officials confirmed a welder was working on the vessel at the time of the fire.

    That news did not sit well with Jodsass, who said he will question the shipyard until he gets some answers.

    “I don’t have enough data to make any positive or negative comment as to why somebody who’s doing their job obviously didn’t get it done because it would not have caught on fire,” he added.
    Jodsass said it was a terrible event that took away something he truly loved.

    “Do I love that boat? It’s a helluva boat, I just think it was wonderful, I enjoyed it tremendously and I think it was worth the money that I put into it,” he lamented.