Nfld. & Labrador

Boats destroyed in Southern Harbour wharf fire

Placentia Bay fishermen and boat owners are figuring out what's next after an early Monday morning blaze at a wharf in the community destroyed upwards of ten vessels.
As many as 10 boats were destroyed in an early morning Monday fire in Placenta Bay. (Submitted by Clyde Emberley)

While the RCMP investigate, fishermen and boat owners in Placentia Bay are figuring out what's next, after an early Monday morning blaze at a wharf in Southern Harbour destroyed as many as 10 vessels.

Clyde Emberley, the volunteer fire chief for Southern Harbour, told CBC News the fire was devastating.

"I think there is something like nine or ten [boats destroyed], I think there might have been a couple that sank at the wharf, but we counted [at least] seven [burned] hauls in the little cove this morning," he said.

"I was talking to one fisherman there today and he was pretty devastated. He just bought two new engines to go on his boat in the last couple of weeks or so, and everything was destroyed."

Thick smoke, a broken pump and a heart attack

One firefighter suffered a heart attack on scene while battling the wharf blaze. (Submitted by Clyde Emberley)
Emberley said he and his crew had their work cut out for them.

"It was tough because the wind was up, the wind was easterly here, the smoke was coming at us, so we had to fight our way that way," he said, adding that the whole scenario resulted in one firefighter needing medical attention.

"[One of my men] started feeling sick and I think he had some tightness in his chest, so we advised him to go home, so some of the boys went up with him, it was his brothers actually. They called the ambulance, and the last I heard now it was a heart attack."

Emberley added the crew also encountered trouble when one of their newer pumpers failed them during the fire fight.

"The primer wasn't working properly, so we have to get it looked at today [...] we were having trouble with it, that's the first time actually, it worked perfect before, but just last night, whatever happened," he said.

Still had a plan-of-attack

While the boats tied to one side of the wharf were unable to be saved, other boats on the opposite side were able to be untied and relocated. (Submitted by Clyde Emberley)
Despite all the chaos that was the fire itself coupled with equipment issues and a man down, Emberley said they still had a plan-of-attack.

He said while the fire was raging on one side of the floating wharf, boats on the other side had escaped the heat.

"It was a floating wharf that the boats were tied up to, and on the right hand side, all the boats on that side were on fire," he said. "And the [boats] on the other side, the fire wasn't over to them yet," he said.

"Some of the men from the community, they showed up and started pulling the boats over and untying them and bringing them over to the main wharf there."

Having been first called out to the fire shortly after 2 a.m. Monday, Emberley said it was near 8 a.m. before the scene was safe.

"The wharf is pretty scarred up, it is burnt up bad [...] and then [in] the cove, I counted like seven [burned] hauls of the boats," he said.

At this point, Emberley said he has no idea how the blaze broke out.

"No idea whatsoever," he said.

"It will cost the recreational boaters a few dollars for sure, but it is bad for the fishermen, a lot of them haven't got no insurance on an open boat so they have to start from scratch."