An early-morning explosion at the Port Elgin Harbour could be felt across the community, officials say.

Seven boats were destroyed in the explosion, which was reported to police at 2:41 a.m. Tuesday and prompted a response from 36 firefighters.

“Flames were intense and very large when we arrived on the scene,” Saugeen Shores fire chief Phil Eagleson told reporters at the scene.

Most of the flames were extinguished in about an hour, but crews continued to deal with flare-ups until about 7 a.m.

One thing working in their favour was the wind, which was blowing off the shore – and away from the rest of the boats at the marina.

All of the destroyed boats had been lined up for winter storage.

One of them belonged to Bernie Schmitt. The Maryhill resident says he’s baffled as to why fire consumed his powerboat.

“There was nothing on there that would catch fire,” he said.

Eagleson said firefighters are “exploring all options,” as they investigate the cause, but do not suspect arson.

A municipal washroom building was also damaged.