Historic landmark destroyed by fire, is a photographer to blame?


posted Wednesday, February 24, 2016 at 11:25 AM EDT

An iconic shipwreck, the Point Reyes, in Tomales Bay, California has been damaged by a fire that was allegedly caused by a photographer. An unnamed Instagram user shared an image (since removed) of ignited steel wool being spun and projecting sparks from the back of the boat, and it's that image that caused speculation that the fire was indeed started inadvertantly by a photographer.

The shipwreck, which has proven to be a very popular subject for photographers and other local artists in the northern California community, has been stuck on a sandbar for "as long as anyone can remember." In an online comments section on The West Marin Feed, Sheila Rocca Moore wrote, "I am really sad that someone would do this to the Point Reyes. My dad, Merrel Rocca Sr., owned and took very good care of this boat for 54 years, and it makes me very sad that people are so mean." Pat Sigler echoed Sheila's sentiments, "What a tragedy! This iconic landmark has inspired the souls of thousands…"

The Inverness, California fire chief Jim Fox said that they were called to the scene around 1:30 a.m. on Monday morning and that the fire was put out around 4 a.m. By the time the fire was put out, the boat's stern had been destroyed. Fox continued that it is unlikely that the culprit will be identified, but some people had contacted the fire department to reportedly clear their names. Fox says, "We won't investigate something when there's no evidence of a crime or actual damage. This was already a derelict vessel. I don’t know how you can damage something that's already broken."

While it's true that the ship was certainly not operational by any stretch of the imagination, it is clearly an important part of the community. It has been photographed many times as you can see on Instagram and Flickr.

Many photographers have been inspired by this distinct landmark and unfortunately it looks as though it may end up being removed altogether. The boat is on property owned by the National Park service and a Park Ranger says that the ship is now unsafe for visitors to be around and that it may need to be removed.

For more information on the fire, see this article by the Marin Independent Journal

(Seen via PetaPixel via Marin Independent Journal and DIY Photography. Index image from PetaPixel)