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Coast Guard monitoring clean-up and removal after boat fire at Grand Bank

Thick smoke can be seen pouring out of the vessel as firefighters work to extinguish the flames.
Thick smoke can be seen pouring out of the vessel as firefighters work to extinguish the flames. - Carl Rose

St. Pierre longliner will be towed to Fortune

GRAND BANK, N.L.

It was a worrisome situation for members of the Grand Bank Volunteer Fire Department as they worked to extinguish a fire onboard a fishing vessel docked at the wharf in Grand Bank on Tuesday, Dec. 11.

Fire Chief Tony Snook told The Southern Gazette on Wednesday, Dec. 12 that the vessel had been recently refueled prior to the fire.

“So I had firefighters there on deck with approximately 4,000 liters of fuel underneath their feet in the tank; it was a dangerous situation there for a little while.

“Plus the amount of hydraulics and hydraulic fluid that was on board the boat…every fire is dangerous but you’re more cognizant of what you’re trying to do especially when you’re trying to fight a boat fire.”

Snook explained that a member of the department called in on Tuesday morning at approximately 9:55 to report a fire onboard the “Marcel Angie II”, a fishing vessel owned by Stéphane Poirier of St. Pierre.

He said when they arrived on the scene there was a significant amount of fire coming from the wheelhouse of the vessel.

It took them several hours to knock down the fire.

“The fire was out probably about 4:30, but we had some smoldering in the roof of the wheelhouse that kept us there ‘til approximately seven o’clock prevent any flare ups.”

Snook said this blaze was challenging because of the confined space.

“We couldn’t really get at the engine room because of the small access door and there were a number of obstacles in the way to be able to get the full penetration inside the wheelhouse.”

Clean-up underway

Members of the Canadian Coast Guard were in Grand Bank on Wednesday, Dec. 12, to supervise clean-up.

Barry Hawkins, senior response officer with CCG environmental response St. John’s NL, told The Southern Gazette they will be monitoring the removal of the boat “to re-float the boat and to remove any recoverable pollutants from the vessel,” explained Hawkins.

“Then the vessel will have to be towed to Fortune to be removed from the water because that’s the closest marine travel lift that can take that size of boat.”

He added they are uncertain how long it will take to complete that process.

“(It) will take the best part of the day to source out some equipment like lift bags. They also have to source out a heavier crane, which I think is already here on site doing some wharf work.”

Divers will install lift bags to try to float the boat. Then they’ll use a crane to hoist the boat further out of the water, to drain the water from the vessel and re-float her.

Any recoverable pollutants will then be removed before she is towed to Fortune, Hawkins explained.

Vessel owner thankful

The Southern Gazette reached out to the owner of the vessel, but calls to Stéphane Poirier were not returned by deadline.

However, in a post on social media on Dec. 11 he thanked the members of the Volunteer fire departments in Grand Bank and Fortune.

“Their work today was not easy and at times was dangerous,” reads the post.

“Tonight, we are thinking about them and the other volunteers that give their time to help others when they need it. Again, a big thank you for being there for us today.”

Colin.farrell@southerngazette.ca

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