Four yachts go up in flames in Miami marina

Mon Dec 19 2011, 10:29 AM

Fire causes more than US$7m in damages

A fire that destroyed four yachts at a marina in Coconut Grove, Florida, on early Saturday is being investigated. It took about 40 firefighters more than two and a half hours to bring the fire under control. The damage is estimated at more than US$7m.

The fire started about 6:30 am on a 65ft yacht called Frieda Spirit, Lt Ignatius Carroll of Miami Fire Rescue told the Miami Herald. The boat at the time had four occupants, including the captain, a man, woman and child.

“I saw white smoke from the marina and I called 911,” witness Henry Monosalva told the paper. “As soon as I got here the owner of the first boat woke up everybody inside the first boat, got them out.” A man and woman on the yacht suffered minor burns.

By the time firefighters reached the Grove Harbour Marina, the adjoining 72ft yacht Zaza was also burning as well as 88ft The Parranda. A fourth yacht, the Splendour, was cut from its slip and brought out into the bay, but heat embers started a fire on board. A fifth vessel also sustained extensive heat damage.

The fire is believed to have started in the boat’s kitchen. Firefighters said that putting out the fires on each yacht was difficult because the source of the flames were hidden. “The difficulty we have is that the fire is in compartments inside the yacht and that made it difficult for water and foam to reach it,” Carroll said. "So we’re at the mercy of the fire until it surfaces or until more damage is done so we can get actual water and foam inside.”

All four yachts were completely destroyed. Booms were put into the marina to contain leaking diesel and oil.

“We’re looking at people, questioning several, but there’s no telling what direction to go as far as the fire yet,” said Carroll, adding that there were cameras on the docks that are being reviewed. The paper said the fire was not considered suspicious.