A former luxury houseboat converted into a floating restaurant on the San Francisco waterfront was heavily damaged by fire early Friday morning, authorities said.
San Francisco Battalion Chief Sam Lai said the uniqueness of the Forbes Island Restaurant – built as an artificial island off the Pier 41 ferry terminal – delayed the efforts to bring the blaze under control.
“It was a small fire when we arrived but we could not get out to the island,” he said. “The fire extended from the outside to the inside… The whole restaurant began to burn.”
Firefighters were forced to rely on a fireboat to battle the blaze and bring it under control.
“It took about 10 minutes for the boat to arrive,” Lai said.
The owner of the restaurant was on the artificial island at the time of the blaze, but was able to escape injury.
Forbes Island was originally built in 1975 by famed houseboat designer Forbes Thor Kiddoo as a private floating resident in Sausalito.
It was remodeled into a restaurant and moved to the San Francisco waterfront in 1990. The island contains a 40-foot lighthouse, 280 tons of concrete, 120 tons of rocks and has plants and palm trees.
The restaurant was damaged by the blaze, Lai said, and would remain closed for a while.
Fire investigators were on the scene trying to determine a cause of the blaze.
Watchdogs are questioning an exclusive agreement between the City of Oakland and a non-profit group, tapped to lead a multi-million dollar project to redevelop the area around the Coliseum BART station.