Nfld. & Labrador

Twillingate fire that badly damaged longliner Sebastian Sails spreads to wharf

A fire that broke out a on boat at the local wharf around 6 a.m. and appeared to be under control has now spread to the government wharf.

Longliner featured on Cold Water Cowboys appears to be 'really beyond repair,' local inn owner says

A police officer looks at the badly burned longliner the Sebastian Sails in Twillingate. (CBC)

A Monday morning fire in Twillingate's harbour that appeared to be under control has spread to the government wharf, and the longliner the Sebastian Sails — known to fans of the show Cold Water Cowboys — appears to be lost.

Twillingate Harbour Authority master Gord Noseworthy got a call at about 6 a.m. from a fisherman getting ready to head out on the water who said he saw smoke coming out of the Sebastian's wheelhouse window.

Noseworthy phoned the volunteer fire department, who raced to the wharf at the historic fishing port.

The Sebastian Sails, featured on four seasons of the Discovery Canada show Cold Water Cowboys, was badly damaged in a fire at the Twillingate wharf on Monday. (CBC)

"When we come down, everything was in flames. It was burning and propane tanks were going off," Noseworthy said. 

"You couldn't get handy to the boat, you just had to let it do its own thing."

From across the harbour, Deborah Bourden could also see the smoke and flames.

"The harbour was almost filled with black smoke. It was a bit startling," Bourden, who operates the Anchor Inn Hotel and Suites, told the St. John's Morning Show.

Once they were able to get close enough to the boat, they were able to use foam to get the fire under control, Noseworthy said. There were still 15 to 20 firefighters on the scene late in the morning, and crews were using harbour water to help fight the two active fires on the boat and wharf, said Peter Cooper, deputy chief of the local volunteer fire department.

The affected boat, the Sebastian Sails, was still smouldering about three hours later. The fire has been contained to the engine room, and crews are working to get water down there to get the rest out, said Cooper.

"It's just that it's a stubborn fire now, and it wants to keep going."

Bourden, after getting a good look at the boat — which was featured on the Discovery Canada show Cold Water Cowboys for four seasons — said the top part and hull were badly damaged.

Heavy smoke rises over a wharf in Twillingate. (Submitted)

"It's really beyond repair. I'm surprised it's actually still afloat," she said.

"There's not a lot left to it."

Fire quickly brought under control

The fire is in a populated area of town during an active time of year in Twillingate, when tourists can swell the year-round population of 2,500 by as much as 800, Bourden said. 

"It's not small but everything is clustered around the edge of the harbour," she said of the harbour. 

Volunteer fire crews are working to get water to both the lower part of the Sebastian Sails and the fire on the government wharf, says Deputy Chief Peter Cooper. (CBC)

"More importantly, you have several buildings that are right next to the finger piers. You've got the actual fish plant which, sadly enough, has been closed for the last few summers. The Port Authority buildings are there, there are many out buildings that service the fishermen that come in."

There are also residences across the street, she said, and downwind of the fire there are homes, some B&Bs, a couple of restaurants, and two boat tour operators.

"I would imagine on the south island they're experiencing a significant amount of smoke, because they're closer to it and the wind seem to be more in that direction."

The volunteer fire department in Twillingate is on the scene of a wharfside fire Monday. (Submitted)

The fact that it's currently a less busy time for the fishing season meant the wharf was not as full as it could have been, Noseworthy said, though several boats still had to be moved to make room for fire crews. 

"We're fortunate that this didn't happen when the crab was on the go."

The local community has helped out, with not only volunteer firefighters working through the day but others bringing by snacks and offering assistance, said Mayor Grant White. The lack of wind in the morning was also fortunate, he said, and kept the damages to part of the wharf and a single boat.

"When you deal with a fire at your local wharf, where there's a number of fishing vessels tied up, I guess we're lucky that it's only one."

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