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Where There’s Black Smoke, There’s Fire

The fire started on a powerboat and spread to another powerboat and a sailing catamaran. 

© 2016 Rose Alderson

A wicked boat fire broke out Wednesday about 4:30 p.m. on the powerboat Rhum Runner at the Island Water World Dock in Cole Bay, St. Martin, in the West Indies. Thick black smoke could be seen from the decks of the many megayachts and smaller boats in the immediate area.

The fire on the powerboat quickly spread to the adjacent powerboat Lo Emma and the Lagoon 42 catamaran Naughty Dreams. All three boats were complete losses.

“We were at Lagoonies this afternoon when a big fire broke out at the closest dock to leeward of us,” report 2014 Ha-Ha vets Dave Hayes and Rose Alderson, formerly of the Gabriola Island-based Catalina 34 Aussie Rules. “The three boats went up in quick succession. Some brave folks who got much closer than most would have dared, untied the next boat in line, and pulled her away. This essentially caused a fire break, allowing the firemen to keep the flames from spreading farther. Thankfully the fire started on the end of the dock and the wind was blowing away, or many more boats would have been destroyed.”

Fires on boats are extremely dangerous, particularly on fiberglass boats at sea. Do you know what to do on your boat if a fire breaks out? Most fires on diesel-powered sailboats are caused by electrical problems or propane leaks, so it’s important to shut down the electrical system and/or the propane system. As propane is extremely explosive, it can be dangerous shutting off the propane, depending on how close the leak is to the tank.

Have you ever had a fire on your boat? If so, what caused it, how did you put it out — if you did — and how bad was the damage? (Email here.)

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