ONE of Fermanagh’s two lifeboat volunteer crews came to the aid of a 35-foot cruiser after it caught fire on Upper Lough Erne earlier this week.
At 8.15pm on Monday (June 20th), Carrybridge RNLI’s inshore lifeboat, the ‘Douglas Euan and Kay Richards’ was launched at the request of the Belfast Coastguard, to assess the cruiser which was reported by a member of the public to be on fire in the vicinity of Tamlaght Bay.
Conditions were good at the time, with clear visibility and clear skies.
“Once on scene, the lifeboat located the casualty vessel which had a well-established fire on board, and it was resting against the reed line close to the shore,” said a Carrybridge spokesman.
“No people were to be seen close to the vessel, so the volunteer Helm placed two crewmembers from the lifeboat ashore to carry out a land search whilst the lifeboat continued to carry out a water-based search around the location of the vessel.
“The volunteer crew carrying out the shore-based search established further information from a member of the public that the owner of the burning vessel had managed to disembark from it and get onto another passing vessel. This information was relayed to the Coastguard who were trying to establish contact with the owner.”
The Sligo-based Rescue 118 helicopter had also been requested to help, and was en route, but was subsequently stood down.
“Due to the vessel still rapidly burning, and where it was situated at the edge of a main navigation channel, the Coastguard requested for the volunteer crew of the lifeboat to remain on scene until the fire had burned itself out, to make sure it did not move from its current position and cause a further hazard to water users,” the spokesman continued.
“The lifeboat crew monitored for other vessels moving in the vicinity and keep them at a safe distance from the burning vessel.
“Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) who were in attendance, assessed the burning vessel, but due to the extent and progression of the fire they were not able to tackle the fire and they decided to allow it to burn itself out. Also, attending the scene were the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) via the shoreline.”
Speaking following the call out, Stephen Scott, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Carrybridge RNLI advised all boat users: ‘‘Now we are in the summer season we would urge all boat owners to make sure you have suitable fire extinguishers on board that have been regularly serviced, and a means for calling for assistance.
“Thankfully in this case the owner was able to evacuate quickly from their vessel. Fires onboard can escalate rapidly, and you should have a means of evacuation from your boat if this were to happen to you.
If you have a fire onboard or any other emergency, or see someone else in similar difficulties, the number to dial is: 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.’’
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