Police, fire and environmental investigators remained at the Tabusintac wharf on Monday, trying to determine the cause of a massive fire that destroyed five lobster fishing boats early Sunday morning.
RCMP were called to the MacEachern's Wharf on Wishart Point Road shortly before 3 a.m. to find the five boats ablaze, less than one week after the start of the lobster fishing season in New Brunswick.
The fire ravaged the vessels, which were burned so badly, they sank.
Ian Benoit and his twin brother both lost their boats in the blaze.
Benoit, a captain for eight years and fisherman for 18, said he's devastated.
It's a huge financial blow, he said. Although he has insurance, it will only cover about $50,000. The cost of his boat is at least $150,000, he said.
It's also the worst possible time to lose his boat, in the midst of lobster season with all of his traps out, he said. Benoit plans to borrow a friend's boat for the rest of the season.
Some boats saved
About a dozen other boats that were moored were able to be saved, despite strong winds that were carrying the flames, said local fisherman James MacEachern, who rushed to the dock to help.
"Right away we started cutting the boats, untying the boats and moving the boats," he said.
"My cousin’s boat was right beside the last boat that was burning … and he had a lot of damage done, heat damage — the radar was melted, side of the cabin was blackened and stuff."
Area residents told CBC News they saw a red-orange glow coming from the wharf and called a man who lives across the street from the wharf.
He saw the boats on fire, called police, then started calling fishermen to come and help.
Private divers were in the water on Sunday, trying to determine the best way to remove the destroyed boats.
Oil and gas from the submerged vessels has been leaking into Miramichi Bay.
The Coast Guard's environmental response team and Department of Environment officials were at the scene on Monday.
A company was pumping fuel out of the water.
The fire also damaged the wharf.
Anyone with any information about the incident or who may have seen activity around the wharf overnight Saturday is asked to contact police.