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Owner, authorities sorting through aftermath of Buford boat storage fire
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Dozens of boats were damaged in a Sunday fire at Buford Dam Road Boat Storage. Authorities have not yet determined the cause. - photo by Scott Rogers

Authorities offered no new details on what caused the fire at Buford Dam Road Boat Storage Sunday, Oct. 7, a blaze that destroyed 86 boats and four vehicles, according to Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services.

Owner Phil Markert said many of his customers have been reaching out to him after reading media reports about the fire.

“All the records, the computer and all is gone. They’re going to get the disk out of the hard drive and recoup that. We have not been able to contact all of them,” he said.

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Phil Markert, owner of Buford Dam Road Boat Storage, spends Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, working with inspectors after a Sunday fire destroyed more than 80 boats at the business. Authorities have not yet determined the cause. - photo by Scott Rogers

An adjoining motorcycle shop also was damaged in the blaze, which was reported at 5:22 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 7, by an employee who provides security overnight.

“He reported flames showing from several boat slips,” according to the Gwinnett fire department.

Capt. Tommy Rutledge said there were no updates Monday, Oct. 8, regarding the number of vehicles damaged, the cause of the fire or the total monetary loss.

The Times requested the incident reports, but Rutledge said it would not be available for a few days. 

No injuries have been reported.

Crews arrived at Buford Dam Road Boat Storage, 2140 Buford Dam Road, to find heavy flames and smoke showing from about half of the boat storage facility, fire officials said.

Firefighters requested additional units to respond. Numerous pieces of equipment, including aerial ladders, were used to put out the fire. Also at the scene was Gwinnett Fire’s Hazmat Unit.

“The fire extended to the retail and office area and caused a collapse of the roof,” the press release states.

With roughly 300 boats and vehicles in storage, Markert said the fire affected the main office and one of four buildings. The other three buildings were fine, he said.

“The other three buildings are going to be operating probably by Thursday. And we’re going to push all that junk in and fence off the area that’s damaged, and the other will be back to normal.”

Fire Investigators, spending much of the afternoon sifting through debris at the business, determined the blaze appears to have started in an area between two boats and a pull-behind camper.

The exact cause is still undetermined and is under investigation.

“There was a steady flow of patrons stopping by today who have boats or RV/campers that were destroyed by the blaze,” the press release states.

A fire truck checked every few hours Sunday evening to check on potentially smoldering areas and hotspots.

Markert was complimentary of the fire department’s handling of the case.

Reporter Jeff Gill contributed to this report.