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MATTAPOISETT, Mass. (WPRI) — Summer is right around the corner which means it’s peak boating season across Southern New England.

The Mattapoisett Boatyard is busier than ever before, just months after a massive fire leveled the site.

“It’s a town institution,” longtime resident Bill Mitchell said. “This came back remarkably fast.”

An accidental explosion in August 2022 quickly turned into an inferno, engulfing buildings, boats and vehicles.

But just nine months later, nearly 30 dedicated workers are busy washing, buffing, and launching boats and providing services for more than 600 customers.

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For Mattapoisett residents, there was never a doubt the Kaiser family would be back up and running right away.

“It’s a really good feeling to be in a small town in a small community that actually cares for one another,” owner Ned Kaiser said.

That care was on full display with fundraisers set up even as the flames were still being put out on the night of Aug. 19, 2022.

“Everything was flattened,” Kaiser explained. “We had seven buildings. Not one piece of any of them left. It was just seven piles of rubble. Plus there were just about 45 cars here that all burned as well, from people being on their boat.”

Following an investigation, officials said they believe the fire started when a spark ignited gasoline vapors while a worker was replacing a boat’s gas tank inside one of the buildings.

The resulting explosion sent the worker, identified as Phil Macomber, to the hospital with significant injuries.

“Phil got blown off the boat, luckily off the boat not into the boat, immediately the boat was on fire, immediately the building caught fire, and luckily there were four guys that ran in, just about instantly and dragged him out,” Kaiser said.

After months of repairing his leg and recovering from burns, Macomber’s first day back at work was scheduled for Wednesday.

Kaiser said it’s been a long process with the insurance companies of some 20 boats and dozens of cars lost, and his boatyard itself conducting their investigation.

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Now they’re looking ahead to what the facility will become, with plans to showcase the state-of-the-art 80 by 130-foot building expected to be up and running by next boating season. Until then, they are working with what they have.

“We have a shop right now that still, I’d say, 95% of the tools and toolboxes were donated and everyone’s working out of them every day,” Kaiser said.

In the days following the fire, the community held a tool drive for the workers. A boat parade also showed the pride the community has for the boatyard.

“I never guessed that what came to us was coming,” Kaiser said. “You really don’t know what to think in a situation like that but the support we got overnight was incredible.”

Kaiser added the pandemic seemed to inspire people to buy boats and now they have more than 100 people on the waitlist for services through the boatyard.

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