NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — Investigators are working to determine what caused an 82-foot yacht in a New Bedford marina to go up in flames.
Smoke could be seen for miles Monday evening as flames tore through the vessel, which was docked at Fleet Marina on Pope’s Island. By daybreak Tuesday, all that remained was the boat’s foam-covered, partially sunken frame.
Hans Doherty, who watched as firefighters scrambled to contain the flames and secure the vessel, tells 12 News he’s still trying to process what happened.
“I thought they would have it knocked down in a New York minute,” Doherty said. “It just kept growing and growing.”
Photos: Flames erupt from boat in Pope’s Island Marina (Story continues below gallery.)
The cause of the fire remains unknown at this time, however, Fairhaven Harbor Master Timothy Cox believes it’s likely electrical, based on his experience investigating similar boat fires over the years.
“The problem was it was burning from the inside out,” Cox explained. “Once it starts burning in the wall, with the fiberglass and insulation, it’s hard to get at it.”
New Bedford Deputy Fire Chief Scott Kruger said the vessel contained 500 gallons of fuel, which made fighting the flames difficult. The flames also reignited multiple times, sometimes faster than firefighters could knock them down.
Kruger said the yacht has been deemed a “multi-million dollar” loss.
The yacht’s owner, according to Cox, is well-known in both Fairhaven and New Bedford. Cox said the owner was hosting a dinner party aboard the vessel when the fire broke out.
“He loved his boat,” Cox said. “This is a major loss for him.”
Video Now: Fire destroys boat in Pope’s Island Marina (Story continues below video.)
12 News spoke with the owner’s secretary Tuesday, who said the boat was fairly new and the family didn’t have much time to enjoy it before it was destroyed.
Cox said the boat’s remains will be removed from the water Wednesday. Right now, he said their focus has shifted to minimizing environmental impacts by containing and cleaning up the fuel, foam and debris.
Thankfully, Cox said the owner hired a private emergency environmental response company to assist firefighters in that process.
“He’s a good neighbor,” Cox said. “He has a conscience and he wants to do the right thing.”