On Sunday around 2 a.m., a 42-foot powerboat caught fire at the dock on Fairlee Creek in Kent County, Md. The Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company says the boat was at the very end of an 800-foot pier, the longest at the marina.
Two people were sleeping aboard the boat, according to the VFD. They briefly tried to control the fire with a portable fire extinguisher, but quickly thought better of it due to conditions and safely evacuated the boat. Multiple local fire companies responded, and fire boats arrived after land-based crews.
Due to the length of the pier, firefighters had to stretch by hand 800 feet of fire hose to the end of the pier. The VFD notes that some of the piers at Great Oak Landing have a firefighter “standpipe”, a piping system that fire crews can hook up to. But this pier does not have a standpipe.
As firefighters sprayed water on the burning boat, Chestertown VFD says, “It’s believed the vessel’s fuel cell was compromised. Before being driven back by hose streams, a large fire ball ensued which briefly engulfed several firefighters.” Thanks to their safety equipment, none of the firefighters was injured.
Fire boats arrived and knocked down the remaining fire, but the extensive fire damage and water needed to extinguish the fire sank the boat in its slip. Luckily there were no boats in nearby slips so the fire did not spread to other vessels.
The fuel cell damage and sinking caused a diesel fuel leak that the Kennedyville Volunteer Fire Company responded to with 300 feet of harbor boom. The Maryland Department of the Environment was notified.
The fire took 35 firefighters three hours to contain, with crews coming from Rock Hall, Betterton, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties, along with fire boats from Cecilton and on the Western Shore, Bowleys Quarters and Baltimore County’s Marine Emergency Team 21 . The Maryland State Fire Marshals Office is investigating the cause, but the investigation can’t be completed until the sunken boat is raise from underwater.