High water and a fast current pulled a St. Albans boat dock from its moorings, sending it and about a dozen boats in their slips floating freely down the Kanawha River Thursday morning.
St. Albans Fire Chief Steve Parsons said officials received the first call about the situation around 7:15 a.m. Thursday, when someone said they thought they'd seen some of the boats break free in the river.
The boat dock belonged to Lou Wendell Marine Sales and Services in downtown St. Albans.
Wendell could not be reached for comment.
An employee at the marina said he was working with officials to secure the runaway marina and find a way to bring it back up river.
The water was too swift for the St. Albans Fire Department to attempt to secure the dock, Parsons said.
Wendell was forced to find someone to push the boat dock back to shore.
"He made phone calls and got a hold of John Amos Power plant's tug that pushes barges on the river," Parsons said. "That tug went out and got them and pushed the whole section over to the bank and secured them."
The dock was secured about an hour after firefighters received the call that it had broken free, he said.
Parsons had never seen such an incident in his 23 years as a St. Albans firefighter.
"Two or three times a year we'll receive a call that a boat or a dock has broke free and we'll go out and get it," Parsons said, "but I've never seen half a marina go downstream."
Parsons estimated that the runaway dock held 15 to 20 boat slips, which function as garages for boats. The boats are pulled under a covering to protect them during the winter months.
The dock was originally secured below the Dick Henderson Memorial Bridge in St. Albans, Parsons said. He estimated the dock floated three to four miles down the river before it was finally secured.